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IT firms don’t walk the green talk, Greenpeace finds

green-pcbGreenpeace says the first results of its Cool IT Challenge expose the IT industry’s “inadequate leadership in tackling climate change despite its claim to have the immense potential to enable 15 per cent cuts or more in all global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.”

To deliver on its potential, Greenpeace says, the IT industry needs to look beyond just cutting its own emissions and start delivering more climate solutions for the rest of the economy. The industry also needs to use its influence to call upon world leaders to deliver a climate-saving deal at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen this December, Greenpeace says.

“While governments across the globe are debating how to solve the climate crisis, it is disappointing that innovative IT companies that stand to profit handsomely from tech solutions are sitting on their hands and not advocating for science-based greenhouse gas emissions reductions,” said Casey Harrell, a campaigner with Greenpeace International.

Greenpeace began its Cool IT Challenge in February with a letter to the CEOs of the major IT companies asking them to take specific action prioritising climate change in 2009. Scores were given based on responses to specific requests in the letter, which urged companies to show leadership by:

  • Providing IT solutions and accurately measuring the impacts these solutions provide for the rest of the economy (in areas such as grid transmission, transport and building efficiency);
  • Lobbying for a strong climate deal in Copenhagen that would stimulate an increase in demand for IT-driven climate solutions by the rest of the economy; and
  • Reducing their own emissions and increasing their use of renewable energy.

Greenpeace says one bright spot in the initial scorecard was Sun Microsystems, which has publicly advocated for emissions reductions of at least 25 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, and cuts of 80 per cent by 2050. Fujitsu also stood out for openly addressing the need to measure “net” emissions reductions that result from solutions they propose for the rest of the economy.

Other firms, including HP, Microsoft and Sony, scored less that 15 out of the maximum of 100.

“The majority of IT companies talk big about ‘going green’ rather than giving tangible evidence of how their software and hardware solutions actually reduce emissions,” Harrell said. “These companies must show case studies of climate savings based on sound metrics in areas such as smarter transport, building energy efficiency and smart grids.”

Greenpeace will update its Cool IT Challenge regularly, with the second version set to debut in late summer.

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