How marketers can fix the transparent sustainability failures of Australian business
There are incredible environmental and social benefits to gain from renewable energy, but also unique opportunities for marketers. Nick Martyniuk writes about how advancements in blockchain technology can allow Australian businesses to promote greater transparency and better market corporate sustainability.
Findings from a new report by RMIT University and the United Nations Association of Australia show that Australian businesses are failing on transparent sustainability. Despite a growing number of businesses reporting a commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from 2018 to 2019, very few disclosed measurable business performance targets related to the goals. There were also very few businesses providing context on changes put in place to address the goals. This presents a huge opportunity for marketers in Australia.
As governments, regulators and industries embrace and accelerate Australia’s transition to clean energy, renewable energy procurement is driving corporate sustainability programs and reducing the impact on the environment. It delivers cost savings as significant as 30 percent and provides the perfect vehicle for marketers to utilise. Not only does renewable energy create a positive brand image, it’s an engaging customer consideration that could prove the decider in securing sales and new business. Millennials and Gen Z are particularly interested in purchasing from green and sustainable companies. As they become a larger portion of the buying population, marketing strategies built upon renewable energy commitments could well win over these coveted audiences.
In Australia, Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) have become the vehicle for businesses to tap into renewable energy by agreeing to a sizable power offtake. An issue for even the most well-meaning and sustainability-conscious business however, has been traceability. The nature and infrastructure of Australia’s power networks has historically made it impossible to categorically link power purchase to a specific renewable energy project. This has contributed to the reported transparent sustainability failings of Australian businesses.
The application of blockchain technology to the procurement of renewable energy is resolving this issue, as public blockchains both guarantee the origin of the energy purchased and finally provide marketers with a platform for sharing transparent evidence. Having these means at their disposal allows marketers to come to the business’ rescue with measurable business performance targets and context to the changes put in place to achieve them.
The ability to link power purchases not just to renewable energy, but to specific renewables projects opens up more possibilities for marketers to burnish their corporate citizenship and sustainability credentials. Powering your operations with an energy purchase from a local project that is supplying jobs to people in the area in which your company operates is a powerful emblem of community support at a time when buy-local sentiment is high.
The launch of Amazon’s recent $2 billion climate change fund is a benchmark example of both the importance that renewable energy now has in business and the marketing opportunity that’s being missed. As significant as Amazon’s investment is, its claims perpetuate the transparency and traceability problem that businesses utilising the blockchain solution can resolve. If Amazon had these safeguards, its marketing team could eliminate any margin of error or uncertainty as to where the renewable energy originated from and back sustainability claims with statistical confidence.
If a business titan like Amazon is missing the mark on transparent sustainability, it shows the scale of the problem and affords Australian businesses a little leeway. The challenge does however rest on marketing teams to tell the sustainability story of their business, including the strategic framework for a successful transition.
Renewable energy is an incredible vehicle to do exactly that, however embracing renewable energy is just the start. Ensuring traceability through blockchain technology will arm marketers with all the evidence they need to spotlight each implementation of the sustainability program, promote measurable business performance targets and ultimately, provide unquestionable statistical proof of corporate sustainability.
With Australia being the global epicentre of renewable energy, Australian businesses and its marketers should be seizing the opportunity to lead from the front; fixing not just the transparency failures of Australian businesses, but setting the benchmark for reporting sustainability globally.
Nick Martyniuk is the CEO of WePower.