Greenpeace has released the 5th version of its "Cool IT Leaderboard," which finds internet search engine giant Google in the lead, followed by Cisco and Ericsson. Google scored particularly well for its political advocacy work and for sourcing renewable energy to its infrastructure. Google, Cisco, and Dell all stand out for sourcing over 20 percent renewable energy globally for each of the company's infrastructures. Oracle received the lowest ranking overall for failing to disclose renewable as well as dirty energy use.
The rapid expansion of the telecom infrastructure and the data centers that power the 'Cloud' is driving significant energy demand in many areas, much of it from dirty sources, such as coal and diesel. The Cool IT Leaderboard evaluates global IT companies on their leadership in the fight to stop climate change as this sector possesses the innovative spirit, technological know-how, and political influence to bring about a rapid clean energy revolution.
"Google's commitment to transparency, new investments in clean energy solutions, and success in powering a significant percentage of its operations with renewable energy is what we expect to see from leading IT companies," said Gary Cook, analyst, Greenpeace International IT. "Given their rapidly increasing energy demand, these companies must work to change the rules needed to drive greater investments in clean technology and renewable energy deployment."
This new version of the Leaderboard ranks 21 companies in the IT industry across three areas: climate solutions, energy impact and political advocacy. Companies were chosen based on their clean energy leadership potential, including opportunities to enable clean energy solutions and ability to influence decisions on all levels of government. Six telecommunications companies were added since the last version, along with major IT software and equipment brands from India and Japan.
The single greatest example of political leadership comes from the Japanese telecommunications firm Softbank, which has leapt to the vanguard of the debate in post-Fukashima Japan in demanding a rapid shift to renewable energy and away from nuclear power, earning the highest score ever received for political advocacy leadership.
But the overall picture outlined in the Leaderboard demonstrates a lack of commitment to aggressively pursuing the business opportunities associated with clean energy solutions, combined with a significant drop off in policy advocacy leadership.
"Overall this is a sector that considers itself forward thinking, yet the majority are standing quiet while dirty energy companies exert undue influence on the political process and financial markets," Cook said.
This Cool IT Leaderboard comes on the heels of Greenpeace's recently-announced agreement with Facebook to push for a rapid transition to clean energy, ending its nearly two-year campaign to get Facebook to "unfriend coal". Facebook made a long-term commitment to power its platform with renewable energy, and will be working to use its buying power to influence electric utilities to provide more clean energy.
Apple and Facebook, two of the sector's most influential brands, were not included in this year's Leaderboard. Apple has not demonstrated leadership or elected to pursue market opportunities to drive IT energy solutions that many of its competitors have, despite record profits and large cash reserves. Facebook was not included for similar reasons, however they will be considered next year due to their recently-announced committment to a renewably powered Facebook and a partnership with Opower to use the Facebook platform to help users compare their energy usage. Both companies' energy use will be evaluated in April in the second annual Greenpeace report "How Dirty is Your Data?" which looks at the impact of the sector's rapidly growing infrastructure.
The 2012 Cool IT Leaderboard was released today in New Delhi, India at a business roundtable organized by Greenpeace and Cybermedia India Online, which focuses on how renewable energy can power Indian business growth.
The Leaderboard is part of Greenpeace's wider campaign to challenge the IT industry to use its innovative skills and ingenuity to lead the way to scalable solutions aimed at reducing global emissions.