Cloud-based applications can help businesses reduce emissions

29 May 2022 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read

Adopting various cloud-based applications could provide a serious boost to the emissions reduction ambitions of Australian businesses, contends a new report from Deloitte and Google Cloud.

Professional services firm Deloitte has teamed up with Google Cloud on a study into potential cloud-supported use cases to aid companies in their emissions reductions efforts, stating that their adoption would help Australian industry reduce its energy use in support of the nation’s 2030 climate targets.

According to the report, seven out of ten Australian companies surveyed intend to reduce their emissions in the next three years.

Progress on emissions reduction

Taking in the responses from close to 500 businesses across a range of industries in both Australia and New Zealand, more than half are already reducing emissions, yet only 5 percent are looking to reduce emissions indirectly over the next three years. The survey also found that only 7 percent of local businesses had fully transitioned to the cloud, despite 97 percent of businesses that do use cloud technology reporting positive environmental impacts.

“Businesses are increasingly focusing on their environmental impacts and should be considering every possible opportunity to help achieve their emissions reduction objectives, and this includes ‘indirect’ opportunities such as cloud technologies for data storage and access,” said Deloitte Access Economics partner John O’Mahony, the lead author of the report.

“Yet we’ve found that these are currently very strongly under-utilised.”

Biggest benefits of cloud technologies

O’Mahony contends that the survey findings suggest businesses don’t view the cloud as a means to reduce emissions, or that they potentially don’t understand the opportunity. The firm states that while shifting data and applications to the cloud from on-premises servers could deliver a reduction in emissions of 4.5 million tonnes directly, it is through the application of other cloud-based strategies where the biggest dividends could be realised.

Here, the authors identify a dozen sustainability use cases through which cloud and related technologies can help to reduce emissions, including some applications which can be used by businesses across all sectors, such as real time inventory monitoring to minimise wastage or by installing cloud-enabled AI systems to heat and cool buildings in response to present weather conditions. Other solutions are more industry specific.

Reported benefits of cloud transition

Among them are drone-enabled crop monitoring to support agriculture productivity, and cloud-enabled data collection for more efficient fleet management in the transport and logistics sectors. Elsewhere, cloud-based machine learning tools for predictive maintenance coupled with drone surveillance spare the need for both potentially hazardous infrastructure inspections along with saving on the associated emissions of site trips.

Still, the report notes that only one in five of the surveyed businesses considered ‘improving sustainability’ to be a key benefit of adopting cloud systems, with decisions to adopt cloud generally undertaken on the basis of narrower commercial assessments only. “Ultimately, we’ve found that businesses with a climate strategy that use cloud are the most likely to be realising emissions reductions,” concludes O’Mahony.