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IBM, Sun Top Greenpeace Cool IT Challenge

coolitchallengeThe first results of the Greenpeace Cool IT Challenge reveal that IBM and Sun Microsystems are the top ranking companies, with scores of 29 out of 100. Still, Greenpeace says there is plenty of work for the IT industry to do and the scores show the information and communications technology (ICT) industry’s inadequate leadership in tackling climate change despite its claim to have the potential to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 15 percent cuts by 2020, according to the Smart 2020 report by The Climate Group.

Greenpeace says the IT industry needs to look beyond just cutting its own emissions and deliver more climate solutions for the rest of the economy and push world leaders to deliver a climate-saving deal at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December.

Greenpeace launched the web-only Cool IT Challenge in February with a letter to the CEOs of major IT companies asking them to take specific action prioritizing climate change in 2009. Scores are based on public climate speech, political advocacy, climate solutions, emission targets and renewable energy use.

Leaders IBM and Sun Microsystems scored 29 out of 100 maximum points. IBM came out ahead because of its ‘smart planet’ program but still could do more to fight climate change, says Greenpeace. IBM’s range of climate solutions includes smart grids, transport and carbon in the supply chain. As an example, IBM recently launched its Sustainable Procurement Consulting Service to help companies reduce overall emissions from shipped finished goods by 10 percent if they require their suppliers to implement energy use and monitoring guidelines.

Although IBM provided efficiency figures, the company needs to give more details on more case studies with net emissions savings, says Greenpeace. In addition, IBM can’t claim to be a climate leader while it is promoting smarter oilfield technologies, says the environmental group. However, IBM offers strong absolute emissions reduction targets although in FY 2006-2007, the company’s emissions grew by 5 percent, due to company growth. According to IBM’s recent corporate sustainability report, it exceeded its corporate goal of 3.5 percent energy savings and cut 3.8 percent of its total energy use.

IBM also recently joined the EDISON research consortium, a Denmark-based collaborative aimed at developing an intelligent infrastructure for large-scale adoption of electric vehicles powered by sustainable energy, and launched a new Strategic Carbon Management program which it says will help clients make their carbon footprints “smarter” and “smaller.

IBM has achieved 8.5 percent renewable energy use (455,000 megawatt hours) by 2007 but the company has not set a target for 2012. IBM’s renewable energy purchase helped the company avoid releasing 232,000 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Sun Microsystems has the best position on climate advocacy, pushing for 25 percent cuts over 1990 levels in the U.S. by 2020, says Greenpeace. Sun, along with Nike, Levi Strauss, Starbucks, and Timberland, are founding members of the Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), which promotes a reduction in GHG emissions of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 and at least 25 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2020 in the United States.

Sun Microsystems recently reported that it met its target of reducing GHG emissions from U.S. operations by 20 percent from its 2002 baseline four years ahead of schedule. The company reduced electricity consumption in buildings by 36,600 megawatt hours, a 7.5 percent reduction compared with last year. Natural gas consumption was also cut by nearly 14,000 MMBTUs, a 7.5 percent drop from the previous year.

Sun does not have a renewable energy target for 2012.

Other leading IT companies scored much lower. Dell came in third place with 21 points, followed by Cisco with 19. Both Intel and Fujitsu scored 18 points, followed by Nokia with 16 and HP with 13. Leading companies including Microsoft, Sony, Sharp and Toshiba all scored in the single digits.

Similar to Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics, the Cool IT Challenge will be updated regularly, with the second version released in late summer.

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