IBM Pledges ‘Net Zero’ Greenhouse Emissions By 2030

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Big Blue going green. IBM announces 2030 target, and becomes one of 20 new companies to join the ‘Climate Pledge’ on greenhouse gas emissions

IBM has become the latest tech firm to commit itself to a greener future, and said it will achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Big Blue’s green intentions also see it and another 20 companies join the Climate Pledge, a public commitment to “go green” launched by Amazon and Jeff Bezos in 2019. When the new signatories announced Wednesday are included, there are 53 companies in 12 countries that have joined.

In February 2020, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos also pledged $10 billion to help fight what he calls is “biggest threat to our planet”, namely climate change. That money will be used to support the work of scientists, activists, and non-governmental organisations “to help preserve and protect the natural world.”

Zero emissions

In its announcement on the matter, IBM said that it “will achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to further its decades-long work to address the global climate crisis.

As a reminder, ‘net zero’ means that the greenhouse gases emitted are equivalent to those that are removed.

Big Blue said it would achieve this by “prioritising actual reductions in its emissions, energy efficiency efforts and increased clean energy use across the more than 175 countries where it operates.”

“I am proud that IBM is leading the way by taking actions to significantly reduce emissions,” said Arvind Krishna, IBM chairman and CEO. “The climate crisis is one of the most pressing issues of our time. IBM’s net zero pledge is a bold step forward that strengthens our long-standing climate leadership and positions our company years ahead of the targets set out in the Paris Climate Agreement.”

But specifically, IBM said that in order to achieve its net zero goal, the firm will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 65 percent by 2025 against base year 2010.

Secondly, IBM will also “procure 75 percent of the electricity it consumes worldwide from renewable sources by 2025, and 90 percent by 2030.”

And thirdly IBM said it would “use feasible technologies, such as carbon capture (in or by 2030) to remove emissions in an amount which equals or exceeds the level of IBM’s residual emissions.”

IBM Research meanwhile has also launched a Future of Climate initiative designed to accelerate the discovery of solutions to address the impacts of a changing climate.

“Utilising a combination of artificial intelligence, hybrid cloud and quantum computing, IBM researchers are working with clients and partners to apply science to complex climate-related problems, such as the growing global carbon footprint of cloud workloads and data centres, methods to accurately model and assess the risk of changing environments and climate patterns, and the development of new polymers, membranes and materials that can capture and absorb carbon at the origin of emission,” said the firm.

Green history

Big Blue pointed out its green credentials, highlighting the fact that it issued its first corporate environmental policy statement in 1971.

And since 1990, IBM has disclosed its performance in managing waste, conserving energy, using renewable electricity, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and developing innovative solutions in an annual Corporate Environmental Report.

Then in 2007, IBM publicly stated its position on climate change, saying that “climate change is a serious concern that warrants meaningful action on a global basis to stabilize the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases.”

IBM also supported the Paris Agreement in 2015, and in 2017 publicly reiterated its support for the US to remain a party to it, when former President Trump withdrew America from the scheme.

Tech rivals

Tech firms have increasingly signed up to green pledges in the years ahead.

In July 2020, Apple pledged to become carbon neutral across its entire business, manufacturing supply chain, and product life cycle by 2030.

In January 2020, Microsoft promised to remove “all of the carbon” from the environment that it emitted ever since it was founded back in 1975.

Back in 2012, Microsoft had said it would be carbon neutral across all its direct operations by July 2013.

But in reality being carbon neutral is the goal most firms set themselves nowadays.

CEO Jeff Bezos in 2019 for example pledged to make Amazon carbon neutral and meet the goals of the Paris accord by 2040.