Climate change has been a major consideration across the globe for making major business or policy decisions. The rapidly warming of the planet has initiated a scramble among the policymakers and corporate decision makers to adapt sustainability and environment friendly approaches in everyday lives of their operations. IBM is one of the companies leading in this rather than following.
IBM has been addressing climate change for the last three decades. In 1992, it was one of eight companies that helped the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launch ENERGY STAR. Three decades later, ENERGY STAR is ubiquitous across many industry sectors. That’s all about climate change because the most environmentally favorable energy is the energy you do not have to consume in the first place.
Today, many companies are reporting their CO2 emissions. Investors, clients, and others expect it. IBM has been voluntarily reporting its CO2 emissions since 1994, 27 years and counting.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of IBM’s first corporate environmental policy. On this occasion, the company has set 21 environmental Sustainability Goals to drive progress of the company while keeping sustainability at the forefront. It has declared these in its latest annual Environment Sustainability Report. Many of these goals are new, some have been updated and others are continuing. Collectively, they cover energy and climate change, conservation and biodiversity, pollution prevention and waste management, supply chain and value chain, and IBM’s global environmental management system.
IBM’s 21 Goals for Environmental Sustainability
Energy and climate change
1. Procure 75 percent of the electricity IBM consumes worldwide from renewable sources by 2025, and 90 percent by 2030.
2. Reduce IBM’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 65 percent by 2025 against base year 2010, adjusted for acquisitions and divestitures.
3. Reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 using feasible technologies to remove emissions in an amount which equals or exceeds IBM’s residual emissions. Aim for residual emissions of 350,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent or less by 2030, with 90 percent of IBM’s electricity coming from renewable sources.
4. Implement a minimum of 3,000 energy conservation projects to avoid the consumption of 275,000 megawatthours (MWh) of energy from 2021 to 2025.
5. Improve average data center cooling efficiency 20 percent by 2025 against base year 2019.
6. For server products with a valid upgrade path, reduce power consumption per unit of delivered work versus the previous generation.
7. Establish, by year-end 2021, individual baselines for fleet carbon intensity with each key carrier and shipment supplier involved with IBM’s product distribution globally. Starting in 2022, convene with each supplier to set a fleet carbon intensity reduction target covering the services they provide to IBM.
Conservation and biodiversity
8. Achieve a year-to-year reduction in water withdrawals at specified IBM locations in high or extremely high water-stressed regions.
9. Source paper and paper/wood-based packaging directly procured by IBM from forests that are sustainably managed and certified as such.
10. Plant 50 pollinator gardens at IBM locations globally by year-end 2023 to support biodiversity.
11. Pursue third-party sustainability certification for major office construction and renovation projects executed by IBM globally.
Pollution prevention and waste management
12. Divert 90 percent (by weight) of IBM’s total nonhazardous waste from landfill and incineration by 2025 through reuse, recycling, composting, and wasteto-energy processes. Use waste-to-energy processes for no more than 10 percent (by weight) of the diverted waste.
13. Send no more than 3 percent (by weight) of end-of-life product waste to landfill or to incineration for treatment. Recycle or reuse at least 97 percent (by weight).
14. Eliminate nonessential, single-use plastic items (including cups, straws, cutlery, plates, carry bags, and food containers) from IBM-managed cafeteria operations globally by 2025. (An example of an essential use is plastic wrap to protect food for sanitary reasons.)
15. Eliminate nonessential plastic from the packaging of IBM logo hardware by year-end 2024. For essential plastic packaging, ensure they are designed to be 100 percent reusable, recyclable, or compostable; or incorporate 30 percent or more recycled content where technically feasible. (Examples of essential plastic packaging include electrostatic bags and certain cushions.)
Supply chain and value chain
16. Require all first-tier suppliers to maintain their own environmental management system; set goals regarding energy management, GHG emissions reduction, and waste management; and publicly disclose progress.
17. Require key suppliers in emissions-intensive business sectors to set an emissions reduction goal by 2022, addressing their Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions, that is aligned with scientific recommendations from the UN IPCC to limit Earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
18. Convene an annual Sustainability Leadership Symposium to recognize progress and achievement among suppliers in emissions-intensive business sectors across applicable areas of environmental stewardship.
19. Document 100 client engagements or research projects by 2025 in which IBM products, capabilities and/or solutions have enabled demonstrable environmental benefits.
20. Maintain a single, global registration to the ISO 14001 standard for Environmental Management Systems (EMS).
21. Ensure IBM’s EMS conforms to the ISO 50001 standard for Energy Management Systems.
With these comprehensive plan IBM is all set to lead the tech sector in terms of its alignment with environmental sustainability and energy efficiency.