IT sector starting to rise to climate challenge?

Cool IT Leaderboard released at UNFCCC meeting in Cancun, Mexico

Press release - December 8, 2010
New Delhi, 8 December 2010/ Cancun, Mexico, 7 December 2010– As a first, an Indian company enters the Cool IT Leaderboard with the IT major Wipro making it to the top ten in this assessment.

As the leader board progresses next year, more Indian IT companies are expected to enter into this IT-climate assessment.

The latest assessment of 17 global information and technology (IT) companies by Greenpeace (1) reveals signs of climate leadership and also gives penalty points for inaction, within a sector which could transform the market for clean energy. The IT industry is in a unique position to innovate energy and transport solutions, cut their carbon footprint, and advocate for strong government policies on climate. 

“Since 80% of the infrastructure required by 2030 is yet to be developed, it will be an excellent opportunity for the country to build its economy on low-carbon pathway. This is also an unprecedented opportunity for the Indian IT sector which is going to be the biggest gainer of low-carbon economic pathway” said Greenpeace India climate & energy campaigner Abhishek Pratap.

“The sector recognises the smart business opportunity provided by low-carbon regime(2), but thus far IT companies are only taking incremental approach instead of taking quantum leap in providing transformative business solution at economy wide level for which they are known. IT sector must work and intervene today to change the status quo and reshape national energy policies to realize this potential before it becomes too late.” (3)

In the recently concluded CEO roundtable on Decarbonised Pathway, CEOs of the Indian ICT sector unanimously agreed that IT companies as enabler should bring solutions and applications to help in decarbonising business operations at economy wide level.

In this edition of the Cool IT Leaderboard, the overall leaders were, in descending order, Cisco, Ericsson, and Fujitsu. Cisco is recognising a clear opportunity by making IT climate solutions an increasingly core part of its business strategy. This in turn gives them a strong incentive to advocate for policies which reduce carbon pollution.

This separation between IT climate leaders and laggards is clear in the Leaderboard’s Advocacy scoring. Examples of note included:

•  Sony Europe joined Google to support the European Union’s attempt to establish an ambitious target of 30 percent greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2020, while Microsoft, Intel, and IBM received a negative advocacy penalty for being part of Business Europe’s opposition to this target (4).

•  Google, with support from Cisco and HP, helped to successfully counter California’s Proposition 23 ballot measure, a failed attempt by oil interests to derail the state’s landmark global warming law, known as the “California Global Warming Solutions Act.”

•  Fujitsu scores high marks for its presentation of 12 specific climate and clean energy policy recommendations to the Japanese government, which is considering a law to reduce greenhouse gas emission 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, while the rest of the Japanese IT companies remained silent (therefore receiving negative advocacy penalties). The IT trade lobby JEITA opposed this draft legislation (5).

“Polluting companies continue to dominate policy debate and protect the status quo, blocking a transition to a clean energy economy,” said Cook. “To prevent climate change and kick-start a clean energy future, we need action from all sides; from a global climate deal decided by the governments represented in Cancun, to genuine climate leadership in the business sector. Everybody must join this race to the future.”

 

Contacts:

In Cancun,

Daniel Kessler, Greenpeace International Communications Manager, +1 510 501 1779;

Siddharth Pathak, Greenpeace India Policy Campaigner, + 52 199820 14034,

In India

Abhishek Pratap, Greenpeace India Climate and Energy Campaigner, +91 98456 10749,

Shashwat Raj, Greenpeace India Media Officer, +91 96868 61974,

Note to Editors

1. The fourth Cool IT Leaderboard is available at www.greenpeace.org/coolit.  Each release reflects changing political and business realities and aims to capture a greater level of detail in measuring climate leadership across the IT sector. Its purpose is to show differentiation in the IT sector on climate action in order to drive action.

The full ranking is:

1. Cisco 70/100   2. Ericsson 57/100    3. Fujitsu 52/100   4. Google 47/100   

5. IBM 46/100    6. HP 45/100    7. Dell 39/100   8. Wipro (new to the ranking) 38/100  

9. Nokia 37/100   10.  Sony 34/100   11. Intel 31/100   12. Microsoft 29/100  

13. Sharp 27/100   14. Toshiba 25/100   15. SAP 21/100   16. Panasonic  21/100 

17.Oracle (new to the ranking) 12/100

2. Two years ago, “SMART 2020: Enabling the Low Carbon Economy in the Information Age,” quantified that IT solutions have the potential to drive at least 15 percent reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020. But IT’s carbon footprint remains an obstacle to progress in the sector. In recent months, Facebook has received heavy criticism for choosing to expand its infrastructure in places reliant on a grid powered by coal energy.

A Greenpeace report, “Make IT Green: Cloud Computing and its Contribution to Climate Change”, shows that cloud-based computing has potentially a much larger carbon footprint than previously estimated. The report finds that at current growth rates, data centers and telecommunication networks--the two key components of the cloud--will consume about 1,963 billion kilowatts hours of electricity in 2020, more than triple their current consumption and over half the current electricity consumption of the United States -- or more than France, Germany, Canada and Brazil -- combined.

3. To avoid dangerous climate change to happen, governments will need to conclude a legally binding agreement that provides deep emission reduction cuts in developed countries as well as substantial action to limit emissions in developing countries, while large amounts of money should be provided for climate action in poor countries.  In order to make this happen, governments should agree to a number of building blocks for this agreement and should, in Cancun:

  • Reiterate their goal to keep global temperature rise well below 2°C, and review this number in light of the fact that a 1.5° rise will have dangerous impacts;
  • Acknowledge that the current emission reduction commitments will not allow us to avoid dangerous climate change and agree on a process to increase the commitments;
  • Set up the Climate Fund;
  • Agree a work plan to decide on innovative sources for long-term climate finance;
  • Establish a mechanism to tackle emissions from deforestation and ensure this mechanism protects both biodiversity and indigenous peoples' rights.

4. Microsoft, Intel and IBM are part of the members of the Corporate Advisory and Support Group of Business Europe: http://www.businesseurope.eu/Content/Default.asp?PageID=604

Business Europe consistently opposes the proposed EU 30% reduction target for 2020:
http://www.businesseurope.be/content/default.asp?PageID=568&DocID=27309

5. Legislation http://www.env.go.jp/en/earth/cc/bagwc/overview_bill.pdf

JEITA opposition (in Japanese) at http://www.asyura2.com/10/senkyo81/msg/368.html