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‘Green’ IT companies failing to cut carbon footprint

Some of the world’s biggest IT companies are failing to embrace a low carbon economy and tackle climate change, both within their own organisations and in developing products that will help their clients cut their carbon footprint.

That’s probably not a shock to most readers of Greenbang, with the IT industry being one of the biggest consumers of energy and contributing to two per cent of global CO2 emissions, but these are the findings are from an assessment of the green credentials of 24 global IT companies by analyst Gartner and the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Depressingly, while the survey found several low carbon IT companies and a few maintaining the status quo, it revealed the IT industry overall has been slow to embrace the low carbon economy, despite opportunities such as smart buildings and grid applications, and travel substitution.

Out of the 24 companies invited to participate in the survey, only 15 chose to participate. Fujitsu, BT, HP and IBM did well in virtually every category but others, including  Wipro, Nortel, Verizon, China Mobile, and Lenovo didn’t fare so well.

The nine who refused to participate were Accenture, Acer, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, EDS, Microsoft, Oracle, Sun and TCS.

And while Google has been loud in shouting about its green credentials the study found some room for improvement on basic environmental practices, supply chain and solutions for low carbon economy at the web search giant.

One of the categories IT companies were assessed on was environmental policies. The study found Google does not have an environmental policy and while Nortel and Cisco do, the survey labels them bland and non-committal compared to BT’s policy, “which is specific, challenging and linked to key performance indicators”.

Greenhouse gas  targets are also one of the most basic requirements of a climate change programme but the study found many IT companies failed on this. Companies without greenhouse gas targets at the time of the survey included Nokia, Ericsson, Google, Nortel, Cisco, SAP, and Wipro. Lenovo and Cisco have very recently set themselves a target.

More details on the study from Gartner here.

1 Comment

  • Wilson Korol
    Posted November 6, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    Thanks for this article; this is an issue that we at Nortel are very serious about. The more attention paid to Green IT, the better. This is one of the reasons that we were encouraged by the topic of the Gartner report. Of course, we are also disappointed that the report characterized us as having some work to do in this area. We certainly agree that there is progress to be made internally, and are continually working to improve operations in this regard. However, we believe strongly that our operations in this area and welcome any stakeholder engagement on in this area.

    Looking more closely at the report, Gartner classified us positively in environmental basics and supply chain. They did not rank us as positively on the carbon aspects of their report, which is disappointing. Our polices and procedures are outlined more extensively at the Carbon Disclosure Project, and I encourage interested folks to look through that document (CDP 6) to get a more complete picture of our carbon management system. ( I am confident that folks will see a policy and actions that go beyond the characterization made by Gartner.

    A few highlights:

    – in 2007 we undertook a comprehensive review and update of out carbon footprinting process, and now assess that footprint for 100% of our global real estate and include all business air travel, Scope 3 emissions in our assessment

    – In 2007, we also joined the EPA Climate Leaders (

    – Executive leadership is key for any corporate climate change action, and our CEO has demonstrated leadership such as Nortel co-sponsoring a Green conference organized by Fortune magazine in 2008 in which Mr. Zafirovski, spoke on panel titled, “A Carbon-Constrained America: Costs, Risks and Opportunities” and the adoption of an internal carbon reduction commitment

    Wilson Korol
    Nortel Networks
    Corporate Citizenship

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