Cisco released its CSR report a couple of weeks ago, which included an analysis of progress against its environmental targets. As far as greenhouse gas emissions are concerned, the company has two main goals:
• In September 2006, the company committed to reducing GHG emissions from air travel worldwide by 10% compared with 2006 as part of the Clinton Global Initiative.
• Cisco has also signed up to the EPA Climate Leaders programme and in June 2008 committed to reduce Scope 1, 2 and business-air-travel Scope 3 emissions worldwide by 25% by calendar year 2012, compared with 2007.
Both these goals have been easily surpassed. In financial year 2009, air travel emissions were down 39% and the Scope 1, 2 and air travel emissions are down 40%. There are a couple of points worth making, though.
Firstly, energy usage is actually up 18% and electricity usage is up 21% compared with 2007 (the first year of complete data). However, as the chart below shows, the proportion of electricity from renewable sources has increased significantly, accounting for much of the emissions savings. In fact if the impact of the renewable energy use is not included, emissions would actually be up 13%. It is increased efficiency we should really be aiming for – there’s not enough renewable energy available to satisfy all emissions reduction requirements.
The other area of savings, and with a target of its own, is air travel. Given that in 2007 emissions from air travel were up 8% on the previous year and in 2008 up 4% again, one could conclude that the 39% drop in 2009 was down to the impact of the recession. Undoubtedly some was.
However, Cisco’s online conferencing tools - TelePresence, WebEx and MeetingPlace – have clearly had an impact. The number of Telepresence rooms more than doubled in 2009, for example, to almost 550, and time spent web conferencing with WebEx and MeetingPlace almost doubled.
It’s hard to be sure how much this prevents air travel, but Cisco has made an interesting attempt at it. The company has compared changes to air travel emissions with changes in revenue and headcount, seen as the main drivers of air travel. The chart below is from the report - actual emissions are plotted against headcount (green line, right axis) and revenue (orange line, left axis).