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Climate change: is the telecoms industry in denial?

Posted By TelecomTV One , 20 January 2011 | 1 Comments | (2)
Tags: Climate Change ICT CO2 emissions

Where's the steady stream of PR flummery from telecoms equipment vendors and operators on how they are tackling their greenhouse gas emissions? We don't see much and we're wondering what it means. Have all the PR departments all taken a vow of modesty? asks Ian Scales.

Or are they - just a thought - not putting finger to keyboard because there's just not that much happening?

We haven't conducted any scientific research -  any evidence to the contrary is welcome - but it seems to us that the telecoms industry has yet to push the CO2 issue to the top of their various agendas.

Take the WWF (World Wildlife Fund  - the one with the panda logo) Climate Saver programme. This scheme sees all sorts of big corporations "partnering with WWF to establish ambitious targets to voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions," says the blurb.

Some of these corporations are big industrials who no doubt spew out millions of tons of CO2 in a very obvious way - such as Johnson & Johnson or Polaroid - and so are  candidates for such schemes; there are also some big computing players with both HP and IBM participating, as is Nokia and Nokia Siemens Networks. But telecoms operators on the whole seem conspicuously absent.

Now companies don't HAVE to join specific schemes like this, and they may well already be taking a whole range of measures  to reduce their emissions that we don't know about, but there is some evidence that the ICT industry as a whole is being just a tad nonforthcoming.

In fact Gartner and WWF Sweden did an assessment of 28 global ICT providers to see how active they were being in terms of fostering low carbon systems. 

According to The Green IT Review.... 

"28 companies were invited to participate.

Only 19 did.  These were Accenture, Alcatel-Lucent, BT, CSC, Cisco, Dell, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft, SAP, Sun Microsystems (pre the Oracle acquisition), TCS, Verizon, Wipro and Xerox. (The press release doesn’t say who refused, except Oracle).

"The survey looked at the companies’ commitment to managing the environmental aspects of their internal operations and their supply chain. It also looked at how they are developing products and services that will help them and their customers reduce their greenhouse gas emissions or increase their energy efficiency," 

'Simon Mingay, research vice president at Gartner summarised the findings thusly; "We now have a clear group of market makers formed by BT, IBM, Cisco, Ericsson, HP, Fujitsu, and SAP who we believe are beginning to build a distinguishing capability. However, at this stage they have not really taken the issues associated with climate change and sustainability into the core of the business and their strategies, and they continue to deal with it within the mindset of incremental improvement and short-termism."

"We were surprised at the lack of disruptive innovation, with the majority of responses essentially focused on the incremental 'client-driven' development," said Dennis Pamlin, co-author and independent consultant working for WWF Sweden on this project. "If the ICT industry is to deliver on its promise of making a significant contribution to enabling a transformation to a low-carbon economy it is going to require substantially more than marginal incrementalism."


Indeed. "Incremental improvement and short-termism," does not a great publicity announcement make. That could be the reason why we're not being inundated with CO2 reduction stories.

Via Green IT Review


Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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(1) 22 January 2011 09:27:06 by Jeanne-Elise M. Heydecker

You've heard of VNL, right ( They make solar powered GSM & Broadband network infrastructure equipment designed for rural networks. Shyam Telecom also has solar powered versions of their repeaters. There are companies that are focused on green ICT out there. Maybe, instead of waiting for them to come to you, you might want to investigate what's already out there. These companies are busy deploying networks in Asia, Africa and Latin America...