Between buzzwords and board rooms:

What energy leaders really think about the transition toward true sustainability


Anonymous survey responses and exclusive interviews with energy decision makers about
sustainability and technology across the industry.

“The industry as a whole needs motivation to change the current path towards sustainability. Margins and profits are dwindling and the main focus is mitigating that loss of income.”
U.S. Energy Leader
Smokestack landscape.



Sustainability efforts are more talk than action

“We need businesses to step up and actually do what they are promising instead of feeding the public empty promises or half-hearted attempts.”
U.S. Energy Leader
say their companies are not taking the steps to back up sustainability initiatives.

What This Means

Meaningful progress is possible, even though most respondents say there’s a big difference in how sustainability is addressed in public messaging versus in boardrooms.

Here’s Why

An overwhelming majority of energy leaders agree that it’s time to start taking real steps to combat climate change.


What it really takes to improve sustainability

Men installing solar panels.
“If the industry can be more honest about the issues we face with becoming more environmentally sustainable, I genuinely believe we can make meaningful progress.”
U.S. Energy Leader

of energy leaders agree that more transparency around what resources are needed is essential to spark meaningful change.


What is the industry reticent to publicly address?

Pie chart.

Why It Matters

“This is like putting a man on the moon was in 1962. It took everything America had to get them there. I'd say it's probably even more difficult because you're having to completely rewire the energy system for the world.”

Rob Kelly
VP Digital Production & Projects, BP

The Challenge

Currently many leaders are hesitant to address how much time, money and resources it takes to encourage new ways of thinking, enact systematic change, and create meaningful change.


Sustainability’s big money question

“You have to invest in automation of these processes, but you can end up saving a ton of money and time, and you can generate a lot more value. The last part is more important than the first part.”
Astrid Onsum
CEO, Aker Offshore Wind
of energy leaders believe decarbonization would ultimately decrease or maintain their operating costs.
Abstract powerlines.

What This Means

Although many companies are shifting to technology that
supports decarbonization, some still worry that it could cost more than it’s worth.

Why It's Important

Energy companies of all sizes are going to have to make this shift, but understanding when to invest in technology remains unclear.

What They're Doing


Technology’s key role in combating climate change


of energy leaders say transformative technology, including integrated data on emission reduction, is an immediate way to become more sustainable.

“A lot of companies are starting this work by asking, ‘I want to reduce my carbon footprint, but what is my carbon footprint today? And what is causing my carbon footprint?’ This work is actually about getting the data. And that should be a low-hanging fruit.”

Francois Laborie
President, Cognite North America
Windmills in a crop field.

What This Means

Both technology and data — and the lack thereof — are impacting the energy sector’s ability to reduce energy use in operations, reduce waste, improve traceability of emissions, streamline operations and more.

Why It's Important

Better technology and data will help companies cut their emissions quickly and scale for sustainability in the future.


How data can spur change

“As you become effective at using software, data, and AI to optimize operational
you inadvertently start reducing the environmental impact of your operations.”

Jon Markus Lervik
CEO, Cognite

“As you become effective at using software, data, and AI to optimize operational efficiencies, you inadvertently start reducing the environmental impact of your
operations. Improving the operational performance of an industrial asset often goes hand-in-hand with improving sustainability and profitability. Reduced energy consumption is one of many key examples.”

John Markus Lervik
CEO, Cognite

What’s the biggest benefit of using data to address environmental sustainability in operations?
using data to help their company make more actionable decisions
enabling decision making at the factory floor
breaking data out of legacy systems
Greyscale architecture.

What This Means

Right now, manual data collection remains a top challenge for many companies in the energy sector, as are data quality and reporting frequency.

Key Numbers

Two-thirds (64%) say that having perfectly integrated data could help their company better measure and understand how to reduce emissions.


The top reason companies prioritize sustainability: improving operations

“The easiest way to improve is to become more efficient in the processes that we already have. We can’t optimize processes if we don't know what the data looks like. Having clean data is essential.”

Katherine CaoProject Manager for BP, Cognite North America
currently leveraging software to automate data collection, emissions calculations, decision support tools and more
Solar panels in a field.
planning to start leveraging software
not currently or planning to leverage software
Room of machines.

Why It's Important

Leveraging software to automate traditionally manual processes boosts operational efficiency across the organization.

The Takeaway

Automated data and digital technology will help operations become sustainable in the short term and create systems for sustainable growth in the future.

What Now?


The path to sustainability remains unclear

Only 50%

of energy leaders are currently satisfied with the industry’s efforts to address sustainability.

“It has to be a value, not an initiative.”

U.S. Energy Leader
Field of solar panels.

What This Means

Although internal messaging on sustainability can be confusing,
technology and data can help lead the way.

Something To Consider

Clear messaging can help companies shift towards
sustainable technology more easily.


What’s next for sustainability targets and trends

“Change like this needs leadership. Companies that are successful are companies with a CEO that sets a vision, and puts an organization on a path towards a profitable, sustainable future.”

John Markus Lervik
CEO, Cognite

of energy leaders still feel the industry can reach net zero goals by 2050.

Sustainability goals are ranked as a top priority for energy companies.

This percentage jumps to 76% when looking at responses from decision makers with the final say.
Pie chart.
Abstract photo of a building filled with plants.

Final Thought

Sustainability is becoming a bigger priority for energy leaders. Getting information, organizing data, and integrating digital technology can help companies determine what that transition could look like for them.

Read the
full survey