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May 03, 2010
Greenpeace Ranks Cisco First Among IT Companies Addressing Climate Change
    by Robert Kropp

The third version of the organization’s Cool IT Leaderboard ranks leading IT companies according to economy-wide solutions, emissions reductions in their own operations, and advocacy.

A 2008 report by McKinsey & Company found that growth in the information technology (IT) sector has a twofold potential for impact on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Rapid growth in the sector, particularly in developing nations, could lead to its becoming one of the largest emitters of GHGs by 2020.

On the other hand, McKinsey found that deployment of information technologies by other industry sectors could help reduce emissions by 7.8 metric gigatons by 2020.

In the third version of its
Cool IT Leaderboard, Greenpeace “evaluates global IT companies on their leadership toward fulfilling the significant potential of IT-enabled emissions reductions across the rest of the economy.” Overall, Greenpeace found that the potential for GHG reduction through deployment of IT solutions appears much stronger now, but “that there is significant room for companies to further demonstrate climate solutions and provide specific metrics for new solutions development.”

Greenpeace used three criteria to determine leadership on climate change issues by major IT companies. The report assessed how IT companies are using technology to contribute to economy-wide solutions for GHG reductions, what IT companies are doing to reduce their own emissions, and whether IT companies are engaging in “political advocacy and support for science-based climate and energy policies.”

The IT company that ranked highest in the Greenpeace report was Cisco, a remarkable turnaround for a company that was ranked 31st in the previous survey. Cisco was the top-scoring company for offering IT solutions for GHG abatement, as well as reporting on its methodology for assessing the impacts of its solutions. Cisco also ranked among the leaders in setting aggressive targets for its own emissions reductions.

In the area of political advocacy, Cisco’s score increased as well, primarily due to its advocacy at the
COP 15 climate change conference held in Copenhagen last December. Google remained the highest-scoring IT company in this area, according to the report, on the basis of its CEO’s statement last November regarding “the failure of the current political system and the need to get the right policies to drive transformative investment in clean energy technologies.”

On the other hand, Google, along with Microsoft, performed poorly in reducing their own carbon footprints, due to a lack of aggressive GHG reduction targets. Google has not established GHG reduction targets for its own operations, and does not report on its own emissions. While Microsoft has established targets for reductions in emissions intensity, it has not done so for absolute reductions.

Greenpeace ranked Ericsson second among IT companies, behind Cisco. IBM ranked third, just ahead of HP.


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