What is a company's IT carbon footprint?

Technology companies are under pressure to decarbonize their operations, services, and products to help companies go net zero

Data center: 57% of respondents by Capgemini Research Institute are unaware of their own organizations' IT carbon footprint (Agência/AP Images)

Data center: 57% of respondents by Capgemini Research Institute are unaware of their own organizations' IT carbon footprint (Agência/AP Images)


Publicado em 14 de setembro de 2021, 08h00.

Última atualização em 21 de setembro de 2021, 11h41.

Technological solutions can help solve companies' environmental problems, but it's worth remembering that IT also has its own carbon footprint. A new report, prepared by the Capgemini Research Institute, shows that few organizations already see sustainable IT as a priority or a tool in their broader sustainability agenda and the journey to reduce carbon emissions.

According to the report “Sustainable IT: Why it's time for a green revolution for your organization's IT”, only 22% of the companies surveyed plan to reduce more than a quarter of their carbon footprint through sustainable IT in the next three years.

Researchers also noted that there is a gap in awareness of the environmental impact of IT, with 57% of respondents not aware of their own organizations' IT carbon footprint. Professionals in the banking and consumer products sector have the highest levels of awareness (52% and 51%, respectively), while the industrial manufacturing sector is the lowest (28%). Only 34% know that producing cell phones and laptops has a greater carbon footprint than using these devices over their lifetime.

Altogether, 1,000 organizations with annual revenues of more than $1 billion were heard.

This gap, reinforces Capgemini Research Institute, is compounded by the fact that sustainable IT currently does not receive the same attention and resources as other green initiatives. When it comes to strategy, half of companies have defined an enterprise-wide approach to sustainability, but fewer than one in five (18%) have a comprehensive and sustainable IT strategy, with well-defined goals and timelines.

Few companies measure their IT's carbon footprint

Therefore, most organizations interviewed do not have adequate tools to measure the environmental impact of IT. Only 29% use carbon assessment tools and just 34% say sustainable IT is on the board's agenda.

The use of KPIs (Key Performance Indicator) to track and measure companies' IT sustainability progress is also not widespread, with only 23% of organizations measuring greenhouse gas emissions. Overall, only 1% achieved their goals. According to the report, setting a carbon cost in relation to IT operations can help organizations realize the impact of their IT footprint, but only 27% have standardized on the practice.

In a scenario where many companies are setting goals to become net zero, as the Brazilian multinational JBS did, with the objective of achieving this status by 2040, technology companies have been pressured to decarbonize their operations, services and products.

About 52% of organizations told Capgemini Research Institute that tech companies must incorporate a sustainable IT dimension into their products and services, 61% want tech companies to help them measure their IT’s environmental impact and 45% are willing to pay a premium of up to 5% for sustainable IT products and services.