Dell aims for carbon neutrality

The PC maker has announced plans to ensure it has a carbon- neutral impact worldwide, but IBM has suggested it may not be easy

Dell claimed on Wednesday to be the first of the large IT suppliers to commit to a carbon-neutral strategy for all of its operations worldwide, but it admits that its operations are not carbon-neutral yet.

Nevertheless, its chief executive, Michael Dell, on Wednesday claimed the company is heading for carbon neutrality.

"Never before in the history of business have we seen such a critical need to build a worldwide community dedicated to improving the environment," Michael Dell told a policy forum organised by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Leadership starts at home, which is why we are going carbon-neutral, but this should only be the beginning of building long-term partnerships with customers, stakeholders and suppliers of all sizes to team up and make a difference for the Earth we all share."

His company's programme is called "Plant a Forest for Me", which follows another Dell initiative, "Plant a Tree for Me". The programme is intended as a way for organisations to share best practices with Dell and help with the planting of "millions of trees in sustainable, managed reforestation projects", according to a company statement.

Founding members of "Plant a Forest for Me" include ABN Amro, AMD, Ask.com, Salesforce.com and WellPoint. According to Dell, each company has committed to offsetting part of its carbon output by purchasing trees for the programme.

Although Dell has released no figures on how far it has to go in order to completely neutralise its carbon output, the company said it will "pursue an aggressive strategy of driving additional energy efficiencies, maximising purchases of renewable power and offsetting remaining impacts".

Michael Dell issued a challenge to other large IT vendors, including HP and IBM, to join him in a "long-term, carbon-neutral commitment to our shared Earth".

But carrying out his promise may not be simple. One issue could be the need to change customers' habits, if IBM is to be believed. On the same day that Michael Dell was announcing a grand vision, IBM in the UK published a survey that showed that 42 percent of IT firms do not monitor their company's IT-related energy spending. A further nine percent said they didn't know if their firm monitors their IT-related energy spending.

Of those that do monitor it, 24 percent have seen their energy consumption increase over the past two years, according to IBM's survey. The survey was conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and involved over 200 senior IT executives, with more than half of them from Europe.

Also on Wednesday, Dell's rival HP was awarded "Best in Class" for its approach to climate-change disclosure in a report by the Carbon Disclosure Project, a coalition of more than 315 global investors. HP achieved a perfect score of 100 in the survey, which rated the Financial Times 500 list of companies.

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