It’s time to unleash Australia’s marketers on sustainability reporting

WePower CEO Nick Martyniuk looks at the missed opportunities of renewable energy in marketers' storytelling.

Recent reports have highlighted a systemic failure by Australian businesses in transparently reporting on sustainability. This isn’t a unique problem to the Australian market. At the end of 2020, the world’s biggest names in business declared carbon-neutral goals, without delving far into the details of how these would be achieved or measured.

This poses a challenge for marketers tasked with supporting their business’ ambitions with measurable legitimacy. Thankfully, it’s a challenge that’s achievable and packed with opportunity.  

As governments, regulators and industry embrace and accelerate Australia’s transition to clean energy, renewable energy procurement is the vehicle driving corporate sustainability initiatives – with the added benefit of driving cost savings as significant as 30%. It’s an increasingly essential weapon in a marketer’s arsenal. 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 tip the scales for these coveted audiences. 

In Australia, Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) have become the vehicle for businesses to tap into renewable energy by agreeing to a sizeable power off-take. 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 initiatives 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 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 Google’s pledge to run carbon-free by 2030 is a landmark tech industry example of both the importance renewable energy now has in business, and the marketing opportunity that’s being missed. As significant as Google’s intentions undoubtedly are, its claims perpetuate the transparency and traceability problem that businesses utilising the blockchain solution can resolve. If Google 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 Google is right now missing the mark on transparent sustainability, it shows the scale of the problem and affords Australian businesses reported as doing the same, 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 a global leader in renewable energy, there is an inherent opportunity for Australian marketers to take charge of sustainability stories in business. These initiatives no longer need to be well-intentioned hype cycles, but can finally be tangible progress reports, owned and cultivated by marketers. Legitimately seeing the needle move on sustainability will create a positive surge to any brand’s image and significantly boost customer appeal. During this unprecedented time of digital transformation, applying blockchain-enabled tech to the procurement of renewable energy should top the business wishlist – unleashing the full force of Australia’s marketers. 

Nick Martyniuk is the CEO of WePower.


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