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How AI and green tech skills can help companies get to net zero

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By Sanket Atal, Managing Director, India Site, Operations and Technology & Product, Salesforce India
In the past few months, the impact of climate change has been felt by people all over the world. As a result, it has become imperative for businesses to focus on meeting the growing expectations for environmental accountability. Now more than ever, investors, employees, and partners want to be assured that corporations stand by their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) commitments.
Effective ESG has become a key element within an organisation’s core business activities, given the growing regulation and disclosure requirements. Against this backdrop, global attention converges at COP28, where world leaders convene to discuss pressing environmental issues. However, it is crucial to recognise that combating climate change necessitates collective action, implicating not only governments and organisations but also individuals in a shared responsibility for environmental stewardship.
As the world witnesses the shift from voluntary to mandatory ESG disclosures, enterprises encounter formidable hurdles on this path of compliance. However, amid these challenges, the emergence of generative AI stands as a pivotal asset, offering innovative solutions to meet these evolving demands. Leveraging the capabilities of generative AI not only streamlines the process of ESG reporting but also enhances the accuracy and depth of insights derived from such disclosures. It also enables businesses to cut costs, reduce complexity, and realise more efficient ways of operating. This synergy between ESG commitments and the advancements in AI technology underscores a transformative opportunity for businesses to foster sustainable practices and drive positive societal impact.
Making ESG easier with AI
While meaningful corporate transparency is beneficial, for many companies, ESG reporting will be a new endeavour. This presents an opportunity to establish consistent, reliable data practices and to navigate the evolving global reporting standards. There is a huge potential in the power realm of generative AI to meet such challenges, further enhancing ESG reporting efficiencies as well as adding value to organisations to save time and costs, all the while improving the world.
McKinsey found that successful ESG execution can cut a company’s operating costs by up to 60%. Yet, 51% of finance leaders, including chief accounting officers, said that they invest substantial time addressing ESG data collection and disclosure.
Companies can supervise their carbon footprint better and help ESG managers to improve their company’s ESG program and reporting strategy more productively, by capitalising on the power of AI.
For instance, they can manage their data in real-time and generate framework-specific reports with ease. Delivering actionable reports, forecasts, and visual dashboards that can easily spot inefficiencies and high emissions can help with tangible plans to prepare for regulatory standards and become more sustainable.
Additionally, companies can streamline the authoring process of the ESG reports through suggested responses that are based on prompts that are in line within a specific framework criteria. For example, teams would be able to benefit from automatically populated responses for each written question in the report by leveraging a company’s ESG data from uploaded documents and previous year’s disclosures, as well as other data such as a company’s emissions.
Sustainability solutions enable companies to easily assess and report on their environmental footprint. Such solutions help simplify the process of reporting ESG data, offering a valuable solution that any company can leverage towards achieving net zero.
Upskilling in AI for a net zero future
In today’s world, effective engineering means sustainable engineering, especially with industries embracing digitisation. It’s essential to prioritise sustainable development and the adoption of emerging technologies like generative AI. One practical approach is adopting “green coding,” where technologists aim to minimise carbon emissions linked to software development. An easy way to begin is by reusing existing code, as creating new lines of code consumes energy. Ensuring a fair and equitable shift towards a net-zero future requires a diverse group of skilled individuals, including carbon accountants, scientists, and eco-entrepreneurs, collaborating closely. However, without enough qualified talent to fill these roles, achieving this ambitious goal becomes exceedingly challenging.
According to Salesforce research on the Sustainability Talent Gap, over 8 in 10 global workers want to help their company operate sustainably, with 3 in 5 eager to incorporate sustainability into their current role. When it comes to AI skills specifically, Salesforce’s AI Digital Skills survey shows that while 9 in 10 Indian workers report using digital skills in their day-to-day work, only 1 in 4 workers are currently using AI skills in their day to day roles Moreover, 93% of Indian workers also reported excitement about the prospect of using generative AI for their job.
With an emerging workforce keen to help, businesses need to focus on training to fully harness the potential of emerging AI and green technologies.
By upskilling existing workers who want to make the jump into sustainability careers, companies can source talent for hard-to-fill roles, support employees to work on something they’re passionate about, and create a workplace where everyone is a sustainability expert

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