Photo by Abhinav Sunil

It seems our lives have now gone back to normalcy after the initial panicked reaction over the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “code red for humanity” report on global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius in early August 2021. This is not the first time we have had startling reality checks for climate change. The International Energy Agency’s “Net Zero by 2050” report also had called out the urgency for actions required across all industries. What many of the pathways have in common — among other important aspects — is the importance of technology-led innovation and the participation of all industries doing their part.

Technology firms continue to play a major role in climate change — both by their own generated carbon footprint as well as by being an engine for innovation that can help us all be more sustainable. They are thus rightfully exploring all possible avenues to be more sustainable. Forrester’s analysis shows a marked increase year over year in sustainability-related questions from clients in RFIs/RFPs — in some industries, as much as 40%. Tech vendors are under increased scrutiny from their clients, investors, and partners on their sustainability investments.

The technology sector has several low-hanging fruits, but scope 3 emissions form a major share of the carbon footprint of an organization. These include emissions that can occur both downstream and upstream. The scope 1 and scope 2 emissions of a vendor flow down to the scope 3 emissions of a buyer. Technology clients are thus increasingly looking deeper into their supply chains and partners.

Sustainability has also become a significant contributor to cloud-buying and cloud-migration decisions. As a result, technology vendors are eager to understand how to efficiently factor sustainability into the business case. My latest report on Tech Buyers’ Sustainability Questions, 2021 helps both technology producers and technology consumers craft a sustainability strategy that responds to the motivations of customers. This report contains an analysis of the top sustainability-related questions clients have been asking vendors, as well as an inquiry spotlight on questions for which clients sought our advice in 2020 and 2021. Along with the top five client questions they have for vendors, the report includes a detailed breakdown of client inquiries at Forrester by sustainability topics and industry.