Tech Firms and Carbon Disclosure

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Michael Jordan
Energy and Sustainability Services

I was happy to see in the most recent Carbon Disclosure Project results that, in addition to other industry sectors, carbon disclosure reporting among technology companies has increased.  In the latest report from the CDP (an organization backed by 534 institutional investors representing more than $US64 trillion in funds under management), it was noted that responses from the tech sector in 2010 increased from 78 to 84.  Scope 3 emissions were reported by 65 percent of the respondents, which is an important indicator that companies are looking at a broad swath of their impact.

Technology companies and their products account for about 2 percent of global carbon emissions.  But the answer is not to produce less technology; because we need more innovation, more information, and more connectedness in order to reduce the other 98 percent.  Some estimates say that the technology sector support can reduce five times its own footprint when applied to other businesses.

Technology companies are most concerned with the resilience of their manufacturing facilities and data centers when faced with extreme weather events.  Energy efficiency is also a concern in data centers (not just for technology companies!).  Software companies understandably see opportunities to help monitor, manage, and reduce the carbon footprint of their clients.  And by positioning products and services as tools in carbon mitigation, some are seeing important brand reputation benefits as well.

There is much work remaining.  But there is cause to be optimistic since reporting and improvement actions are trending up.

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