The IT sector’s progress will continue to be blocked by large, dirty electric utilities until more companies embrace their political power and advocate for climate-friendly decentralized energy policies.
San Francisco (PRWEB) April 24, 2013
Cisco and Google are leading the technology sector in providing innovative energy solutions that can help address climate change, according to an annual ranking released today by Greenpeace International.
“Tech giants have the capacity to lead society to cleaner, smarter energy systems, as both Cisco and Google have demonstrated,” Greenpeace International Senior IT Analyst Gary Cook said.
Ericsson came in at third place in the analysis, Fujitsu in fourth, and Sprint, Wipro and HP tied for fifth.
The ranking, Greenpeace International’s sixth Cool IT Leaderboard , evaluates 21 global IT and telecom firms on their leadership in three main areas: the companies’ offerings of IT solutions to reduce energy demand across the economy; their management of their own energy footprints; and whether they use their influence to advocate for government policies that encourage the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency. 
This year’s assessment finds that companies have continued to make progress in establishing the sector’s key role  in enabling a renewably powered economy, as more companies increased their own commitment to renewable energy. However, despite the IT sector’s green ambitions, companies are still punching below their political weight by not demanding a shift to energy policies that will unlock investment in smart grid and other IT clean energy solutions. Without those policy changes, technology companies will not be able to unleash their hallmark creative disruption in the energy sector.
“The IT sector’s progress will continue to be blocked by large, dirty electric utilities until more companies embrace their political power and advocate for climate-friendly decentralized energy policies,” Cook said.
Monopoly electric utilities, such as Duke Energy in the US and TEPCO in Japan, have shunned the innovative potential of the IT sector in favor of polluting, centralized electricity generation like coal and nuclear power. Technology companies can counter those polluters in the political arena - and reap the benefits of smarter energy policies - but only if they use their political leverage to push for smarter, cleaner, more efficient energy grids and buildings.
Greenpeace’s analysis did find some positive signs of technology companies advocating for smarter energy policies at the national level in the U.S., Japan and in India: Sprint, Google, Wipro, and SoftBank all prioritized policy changes to incentivize investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
But this year’s analysis also highlighted the need for companies to pay attention to policy debates in their own back yard. North Carolina is a critical example, where AT&T, Cisco, Google, IBM and Wipro all operate and could work together to demand renewable energy from Duke Energy, or step in to defend state renewable energy policies currently under attack by fossil fuel funded groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). 
Microsoft improved the most of all companies assessed, as the software giant finally used its considerable influence in Washington to support an extension of wind energy tax incentives in the U.S. However, Microsoft continues to be a member of ALEC, which is seeking to repeal state renewable energy policies. A record seven companies were assessed penalties for negative lobbying affiliations.
Though Facebook is not included in this evaluation, that company’s announcement yesterday that it would build its next data center in wind energy-rich Iowa is evidence of how forward-thinking technology companies can bring clean energy to the grid. The Leaderboard assessed data center practices and policies as part of the “IT Energy Impact” category, but also examined broader climate leadership criteria. Some companies that have received recent attention as a part of Greenpeace’s focus on data centers, such as Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, were not included in the Leaderboard because their operations are not broad enough to be compared to companies who offer energy solutions to climate change as core aspects of their business models.
 The Cool IT Leaderboad report is available at http://www.greenpeace.org/coolit
 Three new companies appeared in this version of the Leaderboard: Hitachi, Sprint and Toshiba. Oracle and Tata Communication Services (TCS), which were included in the 5th edition of the Cool IT Leaderboard, have been dropped from this edition due to a significant decline in performance.
 The IT sector itself outlined its opportunity to drive transformative change in the consumption and production of energy in the 2012 SMARTer2020 report, with global estimates of greenhouse gas reduction potential exceeding 16% by 2020: http://gesi.org/smarter2020
 Google’s recent collaboration with Duke Energy to encourage the utility to offer renewable energy options specifically for large buyers of electricity was announced too late to be included in this evaluation. It will be examined in future analyses.
Gary Cook, Greenpeace International Senior IT Analyst: gary.cook(at)greenpeace(dot)org, 202-297-2370
David Pomerantz, Greenpeace US Media Officer: david.pomerantz(at)greenpeace(dot)org, 914-584-9054