Over the past 12 months, large firms in Asia Pacific have accelerated environmental sustainability action, forging ahead even as regional inconsistencies continued to hinder progress. But the pace of change must accelerate further.

Forrester data shows that concerns about climate change affect the purchase decisions of 40% of online adults in Australia, rising to 63% in metro China and 70% in metro India. And it’s not just market demand. Regional climate risks are now impossible to ignore. According to the World Bank, 13 of the 30 countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change are in APAC, with South Asia the most exposed.

The result? A growing number of large firms in APAC are making environmental sustainability a more central part of their overall business strategy, rethinking their supply chains, product and service design and development, and branding. But what does this actually mean in practice? Our analysis of 50 large firms across eight markets reveals that APAC firms are:

  • Moving more aggressively to appoint sustainability leads. Among the large APAC firms we analyzed, 64% have appointed an environmental sustainability lead responsible for driving climate action and establishing long-term sustainability goals for the organization. This is a sharp increase from only 33% in 2021 but still lags the NA50 (94%) and EMEA50 (88%). Typical responsibilities of this role include reporting, policy, and relationships with business partners and investors. But as environmental sustainability matures, companies are appointing multiple different executives to achieve distinct aims. For instance, both NAB and ANZ in Australia have corporate sustainability leads as well as sustainable finance leads.
  • Setting carbon-neutral operations goals. Of the large APAC firms we analyzed, 62% have set a carbon-neutral or net-zero goal for their direct emissions and the electricity they purchase, respectively referred to as scope 1 and scope 2 emissions. This is up from 41% in 2021 and is higher than the NA50’s 58%. But APAC firms are most commonly targeting 2050 as the year in which to achieve carbon neutrality or net-zero operations. While this is in line with Paris Agreement guidelines and ahead of target dates set by China (2060) and India (2070), it’s well behind 2040, the most common target year among NA50 firms.
  • Lagging on carbon-neutral value chain goals. Only 16% of the large APAC firms we analyzed have set a year to achieve carbon-neutral or net-zero emissions for a significant portion of the indirect (“scope 3”) emissions in their value chain beyond operations, such as their supply chain and product lifecycles. That’s far behind the EMEA50’s 42% and lags the NA50’s 22%. Because scope 3 emissions are both upstream and downstream of a firm’s value chain, they’re hard to measure — but many organizations’ scope 3 emissions are actually larger than their scope 1 and 2 emissions combined. The good news is that some firms are taking the lead. BHP, Hitachi, and Honda, for instance, have all pledged net-zero supply chains by 2050.

Forrester clients can read more about the environmental sustainability actions of the region’s largest firms — and what your organization can learn from them — by clicking here, or schedule an inquiry with one of our analysts.