Greenpeace Launches IT Climate Leadership Challenge

New scorecard measures IT solutions to climate change, advocacy positions and in house action

Media release - May 27, 2009
The first results of the Greenpeace Cool IT Challenge (1) expose the IT industry’s inadequate leadership in tackling climate change despite its claim to have the immense potential to enable 15 percent cuts or more in all global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.(2) To deliver on its potential, the IT industry needs to look beyond just cutting its own emissions and deliver more climate solutions for the rest of the economy while using its influence to call upon world leaders to deliver a climate saving deal at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December.

"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 Greenpeace International Campaigner Casey Harrell.

Greenpeace's began its Cool IT Challenge in February with a letter to the CEOs of the major IT companies asking them to take specific action prioritizing climate change in 2009. Scores have been given based on their responses to specific requests in the letter, which urge them 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 but not limited to: grid transmission, transport, building efficiency);
  • Lobbying for a strong climate deal in Copenhagen that would create a stimulus for an increase in demand for IT driven climate solutions by the rest of the economy (3);
  • Reducing their own emissions and increase their use of renewable energy.

The few bright spots in the initial scorecard include Sun Microsystems, which has publically advocated for reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 and at least 25 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2020. Additionally, Fujitsu stands out as a company openly addressing the need to measure "net" emissions reductions that result from solutions they propose for the rest of the economy. But leading names such as HP, Microsoft and Sony are among other IT giants that score 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. 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," said Harrell.

Similar to Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics (4), the Cool IT Challenge will be updated regularly, with the second version debuting in late summer. Time is already running out and if the IT industry is to rapidly enable a low carbon economy, the leaders need to take a public stand on tackling climate change now.

VVPR info: Contact: Daniel Kessler, Greenpeace Press Officer, 510-501-1779; Casey Harrell, Greenpeace Campaigner, 415-307-3382

Notes: Notes: 1. www.greenpeace.org/coolit Username: Guest; Password: Kaboom 2. www.smart2020.org 3. A peak in global emissions by 2015 followed by a rapid decline to as close to zero as possible by 2050 is crucial to protect the climate. The industrialized world must commit to deeper cuts in emissions and provide financial and technical assistance to developing countries to enable them to switch to clean energy, stop deforestation and adapt to those climate impacts that are now unavoidable. More information is available at www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/climate-demands 4. www.greenpeace.org/usa/campaigns/toxics/hi-tech-highly-toxic/company-report-card