The technology industry is under increasing heaviness to decrease carbon emissions. According to the UN, it currently accounts for 2-3% of global emissions. Still, this figure could rise if left unchecked as more of the world becomes connected and digital technology permeates all aspects of life. Analysis of the carbon disclosures of the world’s 30 most prominent tech companies by Tech Monitor reveals mixed progress.
Tech Monitor analyzed emissions data from 30 tech companies on behalf of a cross-section of the industry, from telecom giants to cloud computing providers. Business intelligence provider Global Data collected the data from various annual corporate accountability reports from 2017 to 2021. The analysis reveals that Western telcos have generally managed to reduce their carbon footprint, but cloud providers, including Microsoft, are seeing their emissions rise as their businesses grow.
Carbon Emissions from the Technology Industry: Main Companies
Among the 30 companies analyzed, Japanese tech giant Toshiba and IT service provider Accenture posted their most considerable proportional reductions in carbon emissions since 2017. Both companies reduced their total carbon emissions, including Scope 1 and 2 emissions ( from its operations) and Scope 3 (generated by the company’s wider value chain, including suppliers and customers), by 64% at the time.
Accenture has dedicated itself to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2025. The company says just over half (53%) of its office energy wants it currently met by renewable energy, and it aims to reach 100% next year. The company also plans to require all suppliers contributing significantly to Scope 3 emissions to disclose their environmental goals and decarbonization plans by 2025; Accenture says that 58% have already done so.
UK telecommunications company Vodafone is among the top performers in commensurate carbon reduction, reducing Scope 1-3 emissions by 26% since 2017.
Worst Results in the Tech Industry
However, other technology providers have struggled to contain their carbon emissions. In terms of proportional change, the worst offenders of the group are Indian telecommunications company Bharti Airtel, whose emissions have increased 86% since 2017, and IT service provider Wipro, whose carbon output has increased 85%. (Emissions from both companies are relatively small in absolute terms, less than 100,000 tonnes per year.)
Cloud and software giant Oracle’s emissions have increased 63% in Scope 1, 2 and 3 since 2017. A company spokesperson said this increase was due to missing Scope 3 emissions data for 2017. Scope 3 data for subsequent years provides “a more accurate picture of Oracle’s footprint.”
“Our global carbon footprint has decreased by 10%. We expect to achieve substantial reductions in the coming years as we increase the exactness of our controls and continue to work closely with our key dealers.
“Prophecy dedicates it to powering its global processes using 100% renewable vigour by 2025, and last year we usual a net nil emissions target by 2050,” they said, adding that this comprises a plan to halve Reach emissions by 2030 3.
The data reveals that despite rapidly growing growth, Microsoft struggles to contain its bulk emissions. Its total emissions in Scope 1, 2 and 3 have increased by 29% since 2017, reaching 14 million tons of CO2, the highest level in the last five years.