Thursday, 8 January 2009

Wall Street Journal Criticises Dell Green Claim

One report you may have missed over the holidays is a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article which critically examined Dell's claim to have become carbon neutral.

The first point is that Dell only included it's own internal carbon footprint, i.e. boilers, company cars, building electricity and business travel, and not the emissions from its suppliers that make the parts, shipping, and the power required to run the computers.

This seems to me to be a harsh criticism, since there are no clear rules about what should be included in a company's carbon footprint assessment. If Dell had included these numbers there may well have been double counting (that's why the way Dell has done it seems to follow the general rules of organisations such as the Carbon Disclosure Project).

What is more problematic is the WSJ claim that Dell has achieved carbon neutrality primarily through buying carbon credits and that some of the environmental improvements that these credits are funding might have happened anyway. This is a universal problem. It's clearly much better to reduce your own emissions than to pay someone else, which is why offsets have often got a bad name.

Clearly Dell has put a lot of effort into becoming carbon neutral and if there is any criticism due it is primarily around being as open and transparent as possible about what lies behind the headline of carbon neutrality. It's a lesson for all companies making Green claims. Even in the article itself Dell is praised for going further than most in its efforts.

The WSJ article is here

© The Green IT Review

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