From electric vehicle fleets to managing their businesses sustainably, Esri Ireland’s Paul Synnott on actions for business leaders.

Recent research by Esri Ireland, makers of geographic information systems (GIS), found that only 37pc of the Irish public believe that Ireland will meet the EU target of a 30pc reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The survey of 1,000 adults, conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Esri, indicated public scepticism regarding Ireland’s ability to effectively challenge climate change.

“Location, place and geography play a key role in addressing the climate and biodiversity crisis which threatens our safe future on this planet”

As part of efforts to combat climate change, the Government has proposed a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030. However, only 44pc of respondents believe that the sale of diesel cars will be outlawed by this date, falling to 34pc for petrol cars. To support the leading alternative to petrol and diesel cars, 75pc of adults in Ireland agree that there should be more electric vehicle charge points across the country.

The survey also explored the public’s opinion on the likelihood of new technologies emerging to aid climate action. Almost one-third (31pc) say that driverless cars will be operational on Irish roads by 2030, while almost half (49pc) say drones will be used to deliver packages and food – changes that will both reduce the need for combustion vehicles on Irish roads.

We asked Paul Synnott, managing director of Esri Ireland for his thoughts on the survey results but also how business leaders can motivate and direct their firms to do their part.

What should business owner managers need to be considering if they want to build more sustainable businesses?

I think as businesses we need to be more deliberate and conscientious by exploring more sustainable ways of operating, such as becoming either carbon neutral or zero carbon businesses. This is all about better understanding your carbon footprint and what you can do about it. 

From an Esri Ireland perspective, we have adopted the One Planet Living model which provides a framework on which we can manage our business sustainably around what we refer to internally as our ‘Living Green and Giving Back’ approach.

Our carbon footprint was the first component of that framework that we looked at and I am delighted to say that as a result, we are now a carbon neutral company through our partnership with Irish Tech Goes Carbon Neutral. This year we begin the process of moving our company vehicles to being all electric.

Are businesses planning electric vehicle (EV) fleets in any significant way and if so, what is your best advice?

If they aren’t then they should be. My advice here is for businesses to lead the way and just do it. From an Esri Ireland perspective we have started the process of replacing our company fleet with EVs as and when their respective lease agreements come up for renewal. Of course, this is not a case of simply replacing the vehicles themselves, but businesses will also need to ensure they have the infrastructure available to recharge these vehicles. 

There has been a lot written about the lack of EV charging points around the country. However, my sense is that as this number grows and as battery life continues to develop and extend, this will soon become less of an issue for businesses and individuals in Ireland; especially given the small geography we are talking about in comparison to other countries.

What technologies should businesses be planning to aid climate action?

The specific technologies that an organisation needs to best address climate action will be very dependent on the nature of their operations and industry.  From Esri’s point of view, we help public sector organisations and private sector businesses to better understand where things are, and where things should be. 

From forecasting the impact of extreme weather events to knowing where to plant native deciduous woodlands; from route optimisation to planning the optimum location for electric vehicle charge points – location, place and geography play a key role in addressing the climate and biodiversity crisis which threatens our safe future on this planet.

Now is an opportune time for governments, businesses and NGOs to integrate geographic thinking into their operations and planning, to deliver more sustainable results and better-informed data in the fight against climate destruction. 

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 20 January 2021

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