Global environmental challenges
The Green Gauge: IBM rides a high
If there’s any tech company that has been able to constantly transform itself over the past century to actually be sustainable, it’s got to be IBM.
Last week the global IT giant announced its efficiency figures for 2009 and it meant good news for the environment, a bi-weekly analysis of companies in the news by ASSET4 data providers shows.
Selections of companies were made by Christopher Greenwald, director of data content at ASSET4, a Thomson Reuters business that provides investment research on the environmental, social and governance performance of major global corporations. These ratings are not recommendations to buy or sell.
Here is a breakdown of the companies that made headlines June 19 to July 2 for winning or losing credibility based on environment-related activity.
In its latest environmental report which was published last week, IBM announced not only that it had exceeded its internal environmental targets by reducing CO2 emissions by 142,000 tons and electricity consumption by 246,000 MwH, but also that the company’s 1900 energy conservation projects had led to a savings of $26.8 million during 2009. The results are consistent with IBM’s own emphasis upon the positive material impacts of environmental investments in the company’s green IT marketing campaign.
General Electric announced it will double its investment for its “ecomagination” products to $10 billion over the next 5 years. Its environmental line of products, which includes wind turbines, battery technologies, and more energy efficient appliances, has generated $70 billion in sales since its launch in 2005. Although the unit failed to meet its 2010 target of $25 billion in annual sales by 2010, it nonetheless generated sales growth of 6 percent in 2009, ahead of the overall company’s flat sales growth for the year. GE has indicated that it sees the greatest opportunities in China and South Korea, where government stimulus packages include significant investments in energy efficiency initiatives.
The company’s ecomagination annual report is available here.
Ingram Micro announced that it had become the first technology distribution company to be included as a partner company in the EPA’s Climate Leaders program. The Climate Leaders program works with companies to develop comprehensive strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reporting on progress and sharing best practices. A full list of the Climate Leaders is available here.
The Dutch chemical company DSM announced last week a breakthrough in enzyme technology which could lead to the doubling of the effectiveness of using yeast to convert biological waste into bioethanol. The company claims that its new enzyme technology is an important step in developing cost efficient second generation biofuels which do not compete with traditional food supplies, and which UBS has estimated could represent an $80 billion market by 2022.
Greenpeace has taken a more aggressive stance against Costco, recently hanging a banner from one of the company’s outlets in Vancouver, Canada with replicas of at-risk fish species that the retailer sells. The action follows Costco’s last-place ranking in a report published by Greenpeace Canada earlier in the month of June which examines the policies of Canadian food retailers for sustainable sourcing of sea food. Greenpeace claims that Costco is unique among food retailers in Canada for failing to adopt any policy on purchasing seafood from sustainable sources. A copy of the report is available for download here.
The Malaysian palm oil giant IOI has recently come under additional criticism from the large Swiss grocery chain, Migros, which has launched a formal complaint against the company following investigative reports by the BBC and a recent critical report by Friends of the Earth on the company’s palm oil practices in Western Kalimantan, Indonesia. Although IOI is a leading member of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, the report accuses the company’s practices to be in violation of the Roundtable’s principles as well as Indonesian national law. A copy of the report is available here.
The Economist summarized many of the controversial issues surrounding palm oil in a recent article here.
NGOs Greenpeace and Ecotricity have strongly criticized EDF’s recent “Green Britain Day” event, and claim that the company is misleading the UK public over its environmental performance. Both NGOs argue that the company is one of Britain’s most significant polluters, importing 300 million tons of coal annually and producing over 1,400 tons of nuclear waste, while EDF defends its nuclear energy program as an effective means of reducing overall CO2 emissions. The disagreement underscores the currently conflicting views regarding the status of nuclear power as a means of addressing climate change.
Photo shows employees following a speech at the booth of IBM at CeBIT computer fair in Hanover March 3, 2009. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke