Political policy and advocacy

Background - 27 April, 2010
As the world struggles to define a pathway forward for addressing the climate crisis, the IT sector has a transformational role to play. IT companies must advocate for policies that create beneficial market conditions for IT-enabled climate solutions, thereby catalyzing a clean energy economy as they secure long-term profitability for their products and services. The implementation of these goods and services will require policy support and financing mechanisms in order to maximize their potential, and IT companies must apply their considerable political influence toward achieving these conditions.

The shift to an IT-enabled clean energy economy will not happen without a fight. Fossil fuel energy companies have benefited enormously from the status quo and are positioned to fight policies that would reduce demand for their primary products (i.e. oil and coal). Electric utilities are, at best, interested in a slow transition that maximizes profits without requiring costly changes to their infrastructure. If we hope to avert the worst social and economic repercussions of runaway climate change, IT companies must break away from these entrenched positions to deliver cutting edge solutions and bold advocacy leadership on a local, national, and international level.

The IT industry can drive fast progress toward both a profitable business model and a clean energy economy by aligning itself with lobbying efforts that support scientifically established greenhouse gas reduction targets as well as renewable energy and energy efficiency mandates and incentives programs.

Political Advocacy represents 35 out of 100 points, divided as follows:

  • 10 points: Political Position: Public speech, preferably by the CEO, that references the need for science-based, mandatory greenhouse gas reduction cuts made to a relevant national or international audience.
  • 15 points: Political Advocacy: Demonstrated lobby for science-based, mandatory greenhouse gas reduction cuts at the national or international level.
  • 10 points: Repetition Bonus: Measures the the repetition of positive speech and advocacy.

Note: points listed above represent the maximum number of points for given criteria.

In the lead-up to Copenhagen, IT leaders, such as Ericsson, Dell, Microsoft, and Nokia, strengthened their engagement in the climate policy debate. IT companies arrived at the UN climate summit eager to highlight the potential of IT technologies to reduce emissions. However, IT companies failed to express a clear definition of specific policy goals and global reduction targets, which they must do if they truly hope to catalyze a market shift towards carbon-cutting technologies.

The Leaderboard rates companies on the depth, strength and quantity of positive advocacy work in pushing for strong global emissions reduction targets, energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment. Overall, Version 3 scores show some increased frequency in policy advocacy activity from the IT brands, most notably around the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen. However, there has been little improvement in the quality of advocacy leadership, expressing a need for more robust policy positioning across the sector.

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