Cisco, Google tie for first in latest Greenpeace ranking of IT sector climate leadership

by David Pomerantz

April 24, 2013

Can the same people who brought us search engines, Internet-powered smart phones, and the cloud also help us save the planet from climate change?

At Greenpeace, we think so, which is why weve been pushing the technology sector to provide the energy solutions that can help address climate change as a part of ourCool IT campaignsince 2009.

The good news is, technology companies agree with us having said repeatedly that they candrive transformative changein the consumption and production of energy.

Today, we released our sixthCool IT Leaderboard, which ranked 21 technology leaders to see if theyre fulfilling that promise or not.

Our report couldnt be timelier: Tech giants Google and Facebook have both announced great steps in the past week that will lead to a cleaner energy grid in the United States, withFacebook building its next data center in wind energy rich Iowa, and Google announcing that ithad gotten U.S. utility giant Duke Energy to agree to offer a new renewable class of electricity service to large customersin North Carolina.

We havent evaluated Facebook in our Cool IT Leaderboards, since its not yet offering services that can directly help us use our energy smarter and cleaner. But we do evaluate Google, and the companys recent leadership with Duke Energy clearly fit into a larger trend, as it tied for the reports lead.

The ranking found that Google and Cisco are leading the way, followed by Ericsson in third place, Fujitsu in fourth, and Sprint, Wipro and HP tied for fifth.

Many companies have continued to make progress in offering products and services to enable a renewably powered economy, and more companies increased their own commitment to renewable energy. However, despite the IT sectors green ambitions, we wont achieve transformational change a realEnergy Revolution until technology companies use their political power to demand a shift to energy policies that will unlock investment in clean energy solutions.

Monopoly electric utilities, such as Duke Energy in the US or TEPCO in Japan, have shunned the innovative potential of the IT sector in favor of polluting, centralised electricity generation like coal and nuclear power. Those companies have dominated the power grids and markets for over 100 years in many parts of the world, and have entrenched their political power during that reign. But technology companies have political leverage too: they have amassed money and cultural power in recent decades, and can create a counterweight against the polluting lobby, but only if they use their political leverage to push for smarter, cleaner, more efficient energy grids and buildings.

We did find some positive signs of technology companies advocating for smarter energy policies in countries like the U.S., Japan and in India: Sprint, Google, Wipro, and SoftBank all prioritised policy changes to encourage investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

And while it wasnt released in time to be included in this report, Googles announcement that it would push utilities to deliver more renewable energy to large customers, a practice that will start with Duke Energy in North Carolina could be a potential breakthrough; Dukes current energy mix is powered by only 0.2 % renewable energy in the Carolinas, a stark contrast to Googles goal of being 100% renewably powered. Other companies ranked in the Leaderboard, like AT&T, Cisco, Google, IBM and Wipro all operate in North Carolina too, and could work together to follow Googles lead and demand more renewable energy from Duke Energy, or step in to defend state renewable energy policies currently under attack by fossil fuel funded groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Energy decisions this year are getting more and more crucial as we approachclimate tipping points. If the technology giants of the world are going to use their voices to promote the smart energy solutions to climate change, they need to do so now.

Check out the report here and see how the brands that you use stack up in the tech sectors efforts to embrace clean energy and help stop climate change.

David Pomerantz

By David Pomerantz

David Pomerantz is a former Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace USA, based in San Francisco. He helps lead Greenpeace's campaign for an economy powered by 100% renewable energy.

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