ICT leaders slow to embrace the green economy

20 Nov 2008

BT, Fujitsu, HP and IBM have topped a global survey on ICT firms and their response to climate change.

But heavyweights Google, Cisco, China Mobile, Lenovo and Dell all scored 'relatively poorly', and the industry has been slow to move to a low-carbon economy, says research firm Gartner.

Despite its feel-good 'do no evil' slogan, search firm Google had 'room for improvement on basic environmental practices, supply chain and solutions for low carbon economy.' Companies like Cisco and Dell tended to display 'more talk than action', the study found.

Gartner and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) examined the efforts of 15 ICT firms in tackling climate change within their own company and in developing solutions that will drive growth in a low-carbon economy.

'Overall the industry has been slow to embrace the low-carbon economy, despite the tremendous opportunities that will be presented to the industry, such as smart buildings and grid applications and travel substitution,' Gartner said.

'IT service organizations are quite immature in their environmental programs and their innovation for a low carbon economy,' it added.

Taking part in the survey were BT, China Mobile, Cisco, Dell, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Google, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Nokia, Nortel, SAP, Verizon and Wipro Technologies.

Another nine companies - Accenture, Acer, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, EDS, Microsoft, Oracle, Sun and TCS - declined to participate.

'Of the vendors that did respond, Fujitsu, BT, HP and IBM did well in virtually every category, while others such as Wipro, Nortel, Verizon, China Mobile, and Lenovo did not score particularly well,' Gartner said.

The survey found that 'Fujitsu, HP and IBM have a well-structured, balanced, long-term environmental plan that demonstrates a level of commitment across the business.'

Gartner research vice president Simon Mingay said the report was the first to examine the commitment of large ICT providers to reducing the environmental impact of their business and in their supply chain.

The survey found most companies had been very slow to recognize their changing market circumstances as a result of climate change.

'Only a few of these IT service providers have really thought through the implications of a low carbon economy for their own operations or the potential opportunities it represents for their own business,' he said.

Nokia 'excelled' in supply chain management, but Cisco, China Mobile, Lenovo, Dell and Google all scored relatively poorly.

Google does not have an environmental policy at all, the report found, while Nortel and Cisco have 'bland and non-committal' environmental policies. By comparison, BT's policy is 'specific, challenging and linked to key performance indicators.'

Nokia, Ericsson, Google, Nortel, Cisco, SAP, and Wipro lacked even an overall greenhouse gas (GHG) target - 'one of the most basic requirements of a climate change program,' said Mingay.

Cisco and Dell have a tendency toward more talking than action on their internal climate program.

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