Blog Post

Greenpeace to IT Industry: You're Slackers On Fighting Climate Change

Greenpeace has been a fly in the ointment of the consumer electronics industry with its Greener Electronics Guide, which has delivered some harsh scores to gadget-makers over the years. Now, the group is tackling the IT industry: Greenpeace says the IT industry has shown “inadequate leadership in tackling climate change,” and it has launched the “Greenpeace Cool IT Challenge,” which ranks IT firms like Sun (s JAVA), IBM (s IBM), Cisco (s CSCO) and Microsoft (s MSFT) according to their climate change fighting efforts.


As with the first surveys of gadget makers, not a single IT firm out of the more than a dozen featured scored above a 30 out of a score of 100. Basically, Greenpeace failed the lot of them. (That’s Greenpeace’s strategy — it likes to be the stern school teacher.) IBM, Sun and Dell were the leaders, while Sony, Sharp and Toshiba were the losers. The scorecard ranks companies on the basis of three sectors: political advocacy (how many speeches the CEO has given and the number of company’s public statements); how much the company reduced its emissions; and the biggest factor, worth 50 points, how the company producing is helping to establish and follow emissions reductions best practices.

While I applaud Greenpeace for trying to needle the IT industry into delivering more climate change leadership and emissions reductions, the IT industry has actually been one of the leading sectors of business to move in this direction first. IT company leaders like Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt (the search engine giant wasn’t ranked on the scorecard, but Greenpeace says it will be next time) have been very aggressive on political advocacy, adopting energy efficiency and investing in cleantech. The IT industry can always stand to do more — as Greenpeace says, it has the potential to cut 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 — but why doesn’t the organization release a scorecard for industries that need to be whipped into shape even more, like construction and building?

Ultimately, the marketplace will be a substantial driver for emissions reductions (saving money by saving energy), so as IT companies get more comfortable with managing emissions reductions, and when the U.S. gets some carbon regulations, we’ll see some of these rankings go up dramatically on the next ranking set to be released in August or September.