Cool it with the Cool IT Challange

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Richard Maltzman
Dave Shirley

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You know from reading our blog postings, whether here, at our website, or other guest posts we’ve contributed over the last couple of years, that we are neither “tree huggers” nor “Hummer huggers”, but fall somewhere in between.  We do believe that sustainability is the way of the future for a variety of reasons including, we assert, that it is the right thing to do.  Every once in a while we come across a project executed by one of the more radical factions that deserves a closer look.  In this case it is a project, a challenge, to the Information Technology (IT) industry.  The gauntlet was thrown down by Greenpeace.    It is called the Cool IT Challenge

According to the Greenpeace Internationalwebsite, and as we also believe because of the huge impact it has on the environment,  “The IT sector is uniquely positioned to help the world shift to a prosperous clean energy economy, and the Cool IT Challenge is urging IT companies to put forth innovation, mitigate their own carbon footprint, and advocate for significant policy changes in the mutual interest of business and the climate.”  Further, “Greenpeace launched the Cool IT Challenge in 2009 to call on Information Technology (IT) companies to power technological solutions needed to fight climate change.  In 2008, The Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) issued a report, called SMART 2020: enabling the low carbon economy in the information age, which showed how the IT sector can reduce economy-wide global emissions of up to 15 percent by 2020.”

The Cool IT challenge pits global IT companies against each other to try to top the prestigious Cool IT Climate Leaderboard.  The “Leaderboard” is another metric that investors and concerned consumers can access to assess the different tech companies and their sustainability efforts.  Here is the link to look at the latest leaderboard.  Tech companies are compared using three categories; IT Climate Solutions, IT Energy Impact and Political Advocacy.  Climate Solutions are the “economy-wide technical climate solution” efforts that the tech companies are offering to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.    Energy Impact are the “initiatives” undertaken to reduce their own global warming emissions.  Political Advocacy, that we find very interesting, is the “active” engagement by these companies in the political advocacy and support for science-based climate and energy policies. 

While the latest leaderboard show that Google has topped the leaderboard and many of the companies are gaining ground.  But what it also shows is that there is a significant drop across the board on political advocacy.  As we said, this is one of the more interesting of the measures for us because without political support and advocacy thereof, changing the conversation will be difficult.  It is not only “talking the talk”, but “walking the walk.” 

A popular and fundamental axiom in project management is that in order to be successful a project must have top-down support.  Grassroots, or bottom up, can only do so much.  We need to continue to push these companies to include political actions in their projects, whether it is continuing to connect to the enterprises sustainability plan, communicating the need to do so with upper management, encouraging management ot become involved in the political proces of sustianabilty or with our buying habits by supporting the companies that support this mission. 

Posted by Dave Shirley on: April 25, 2012 09:56 AM | Permalink

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"Each problem that I solved became a rule which served afterwards to solve other problems."

- Rene Descartes