Friday, 10 February 2012

Google heads the Greenpeace Cool IT Leaderboard

Greenpeace - Greener Electronics Greenpeace has released the latest in its occasional series of Cool IT Leaderboard rankings, based on an evaluation of IT vendors’ green performance. Of the 21 companies included in the list, Google comes out on top, with a score of 53 (out of a possible 100) mainly as a result of its support of stronger US clean energy policy and the strengthening of the EU’s current 20% greenhouse gas target of 30% by 2020. Cisco is in second place, with a score of 49, with Ericsson and Fujitsu close behind with 48.


The scoring is based on three criteria:

  • Efforts to offer economy-wide technological climate solutions that contribute to global greenhouse gas reductions. (40 points out of 100)

  • Initiatives to reduce their own energy impact/global warming emissions. (25/100)

  • Active engagement in political advocacy and support for science-based climate and energy policies. (35/100)

Fujitsu, Ericsson and Cisco scored highly for driving ICT solutions and providing comprehensive case studies. Global telecommunications operators such as Vodafone and NTT also scored relatively well in solutions leadership.

IBM led the energy impact rankings, followed by Alcatel-Lucent, with a chasing group of Cisco Google, Dell and Wipro.

Softbank was way out in the lead for advocacy, scoring 33 points out of a possible 35, followed by Google, 10 points behind and Vodafone 10 points behind that. Most of the companies scored less than 10 in this area. Bottom of this list was Oracle (0), IBM (-4), NTT (-5) and NEC (-10). The negative scores are the result of penalty points for ‘negative lobbying’. In the case of IBM, for example, Greenpeace cites the company for ‘failing to distinguish itself from the views and positions of the trade association BusinessEurope. IBM is a member of this trade association, which has been leading efforts to block the EU’s proposed greenhouse gas reduction target of 30% by 2020.’

It’s difficult to track changes over time for specific companies, because the scoring can vary (or, as some would say, Greenpeace moves the goalposts) and the companies included also change. (Even the publication is a bit erratic – the last two lists published were in December 2010 and April 2010).

This time round six telecommunications companies were added: AT&T, Telefónica, Vodafone, Softbank, Alcatel-Lucent, and NTT. Apple and Facebook have not been included this time. Greenpeace said that Apple was excluded because its efforts do not meet the Leaderboard criteria. ‘It has  not demonstrated leadership or elected to pursue market opportunities to drive IT energy solutions that many of its competitors have, despite record profits and large cash reserves.’  Facebook has previously been omitted for similar reasons, but will be included in next Leaderboard.

For the record, the average score dropped by 8 points since the last Leaderboard, from 39 out of a hundred down to 31. Cisco saw the biggest drop in score, down 21 points, although Dell, HP and IBM also saw double-digit points drops. Intel, Nokia, Panasonic, Sony and Toshiba were in the rankings last time but not there this time round – not sure why.


These rankings are mainly interesting because of the insight they give into what the companies are doing (or not doing) now. It’s about recent actions rather than accumulated achievements, which is why companies come and go and scores fluctuate. Add to that the reassessments of the ranking criteria and Greenpeace is clearly trying hard to keep the industry on its toes, and that’s as it should be.

What I like about the Leaderboard is its outward-looking approach. It puts a lot of store in advocacy and offering solutions for a greener economy. That’s the important role of the IT sector, which stands to gain from the increased opportunities anyway.

© The Green IT Review

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