Most companies want to be greener, but are failing to do so

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The large majority of businesses see sustainability as a key goal, but many are unsure how to action and even measure their efforts to go green, a new study has found.

Google Cloud surveyed 1,491 executives across 16 EMEA countries on their sustainability practices, with 90% of leaders identifiying ESG initiatives as their top organisation priority. 

However sustainability efforts receive some of the lowest investment levels, especially proportionally to how important they are viewed. Just 9% of these businesses were allocating resources towards sustainability goals. 

Empty words 

In the UK specifically, 71% of executives said that their organisation was guilty of so-called greenwashing, which is higher than the EMEA average of 54%. The practice involves making empty pledges with little to no actual follow-through. 

“The research showed a troubling gap between how well companies think they're doing, and how accurately they’re able to measure it,” says Google. 

“Only 36% of respondents said their organizations have measurement tools in place to quantify their sustainability efforts, and just 17% are using those measurements to optimize based on results.” 

It goes without saying that accurately tracking sustainability goals is incredibly hard without the right tools. 

Perhaps the only good news from the survey is that executives are clearly aware of the importance of sustainability and have, at least in words, expressed a commitment to changing things.

Dark clouds 

One of the main difficulties for Google Cloud itself is that cloud computing uses a lot of resources, especially water and energy. 

Running a vast data center is an incredibly resource-intensive thing to do, which is one of the reasons that Google, Meta, and others are simultaneously building centres in cold countries and signing huge deals to gobble up renewable energy. 

Hopefully Google can heed its own research and invest genuinely and properly into creating a sustainable way of running hyperscale data centres that power much of the world's “cloud” computing. 

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