Chief Technology Officers are Critical for Companies’ Net-Zero Targets, Global Study Shows

Eighty-four percent of CEOs and chief sustainability officers agree the CTO has the potential to become the greatest driver of sustainability in an organization.


  • June 27, 2023

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​The Sustainable CTO, a new global research report from Intel, finds that chief technology officers (CTOs) play a critical role in aligning business strategies with technology demands to meet sustainability targets.

“Enterprise leaders are approaching the interconnected challenges of sustainability and radical digital transformation. Technology has a critical role to play in sustainable transformation,” said Greg Lavender, senior vice president, chief technology officer and general manager of the Software and Advanced Technology Group at Intel. “If the C-suite, including CTOs and CIOs, rally in support of a tech-positive approach, technological transformation can propel us toward a future that is greener, fairer and smarter.”

More: The Sustainable CTO ( | The Sustainable CTO Report | Introducing the Sustainable CTO (Greg Lavender Editorial) 

Information technology (IT) leaders have both the appetite to take on the challenge and the support from the rest of the C-suite: 79% of senior IT leaders aspire to become sustainability leaders and 82% of CEOs and chief sustainability officers (CSOs) believe the CTO role is pivotal to successful sustainability transitions. This new model of CTO is tasked with achieving “tech zero,” defined as reducing the carbon footprint of an organization’s IT function. Further, they must also use technology as a lever for their whole organizations to reach their net-zero goals, also known as “tech positive.” Ultimately, these efforts can drive business growth and accelerate innovation, affecting the sustainable transformation of their entire organizations

Stepping into the Role of a Sustainable CTO

To support the initiative, Intel has established an advisory board consisting of tech and sustainability leaders across various sectors. The board will collaborate to identify best practices to help organizations determine the best path toward becoming tech positive, given real-world business demands.

“The new role of the sustainable CTO will play a crucial part in an organization’s transition to net zero, but CTOs can’t navigate the challenges they will face alone,” said Motti Finkelstein, Intel corporate vice president and digital transformation officer. “We aim to help CTOs on their sustainability journey and outline the roadmap for organizations to achieve their sustainability goals.”

The research found that 70% of senior IT leaders believe their organizations require a significant change or complete transformation to become net-zero businesses. And while CTOs need to drive this transformation, a tech trilemma is preventing them from taking on this role: a lack of knowledge, investment and innovation.

Intel’s global research also found that:

  • 82% of senior IT leaders say that technology strategy and sustainability strategy must become increasingly aligned if their organizations are to reach net zero and become more sustainable businesses.
  • 80% of senior IT leaders believe organizations are heavily reliant on technology and their CTOs to make their businesses more sustainable.
  • 70% of senior IT leaders believe their organizations will not be able to reach net zero without the support and action of their IT functions.

Roadmap for Sustainable CTOs

Respondents agree that the top four success factors for the CTO’s Sustainability Roadmap to achieve tech zero are:

  1. Build skills to understand where to optimize.
  2. Get buy-in from the wider business.
  3. Understand the data and optimize existing infrastructure.
  4. Plan for solution and software innovation.

CEOs see sustainability as their organizations’ top growth driver between now and 2030, with digitization a close second. With 82% of CEOs and CSOs believing that the CTO role has more influence on the organization's sustainability strategy than before, now is the time for CTOs to assume the mantle of the Sustainable CTO and step up to the challenge.

About the Research

 In 2023, Intel, in partnership with Man Bites Dog, ran an independent opinion research study with research body Coleman Parkes, interviewing 1,520 senior IT leaders, 250 CEOs and 250 CSOs representing 11 different sectors across 22 markets.


  • Americas: USA, Canada, Brazil, Mexico.
  • EMEA: United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Nigeria.
  • APAC: China, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong.


  • Hyperscalers, TMT, Financial Services, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Manufacturing, Transportation, Education, Public Sector, Professional Services, Retail, Travel & Hospitality.

Advisory Board Members

Members of the Advisory Board include:

  • Rimma Iontel, chief architect Global Telco Team, RedHat.
  • Denise Lee Yeh, vice president of Engineering Sustainability Office, Cisco.
  • Sunil Joshi, vice president and chief technology officer, Hybrid Cloud Services, Americas, IBM.
  • David Bernstein, distinguished cloud architect, Roche.
  • Selda Gunsel, vice president, Fuels and Lubricants Technology, Shell.
  • Brent Collins, senior director, Data & Emerging Solutions, WWT.
  • Emily Martin, executive vice president, Converge.

Tech Zero is a trademark of Octopus Energy Group Limited.