Report: Tech firms winning on climate change

Intel, Dell and IBM stand out among technology companies for policies directed at averting the threat of climate change, according to a study.

Ceres, an investor coalition focused on environmental concerns, commissioned the study evaluating how effective 63 companies in the tech, consumer products, leisure and drug sectors have been in institutionalising policies intended to reduce their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

IBM, Dell and Intel ranked first, third and fourth among the companies studied, while British retailer Tesco came in second.

"What we're really looking at here is the degree to which companies are incorporating climate risk and opportunities into their core business strategy," said Anne Kelly, director of Boston-based Ceres' corporate governance program.

"It isn't an add-on, it's not a question of philanthropy ... It's really core to their strategic thinking."

Reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas associated with global warming, has become a priority for many businesses.

The sectors covered in the survey, while less energy-intensive than businesses like power generation or transportation, were chosen because they are less likely to be subject to specific emissions regulations.

Energy-efficient designs

The tech companies stood out for their focus on making their products more energy-efficient. That drive provides other benefits, making servers cheaper for corporations to run and allowing laptops to operate longer on battery power.

They have also been quick to embrace technologies that can reduce their energy needs. For instance, more than 100,000 IBM employees work from remote locations, rather than commuting daily to an office - thus saving the energy that would otherwise be needed to transport them.

The issue of energy efficiency drew ever more corporate attention over the past few years as prices rocketed higher. The spreading global recession, however, has driven costs down, with crude oil now trading at less than one-third its record high of July.

But Wayne Balta, IBM's vice president of corporate environmental affairs, argued that businesses will not forget the importance of energy efficiency so quickly.

"Good environmental management makes good business sense," Balta said.

"When you make your business more efficient it is inevitably good for the environment and vice-versa.

"When you achieve things that are more positive for the environment they are nine times out of ten more efficient for your business."


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