Cisco Behind on GHG Goal for 2012

by | Dec 8, 2011

Cisco is slipping in its quest to reduce scope 1, scope 2 and business air travel GHG emissions by 25 percent by 2012, with a 15 percent reduction from its 2007 baseline this financial year – down from 23 percent in 2010 and 37 percent in 2009, according to its seventh annual corporate social responsibility report.

In its executive summary and press release, Cisco says it is on track to meet the commitment, but its combined total of contractual absolute scope 1 and 2 emissions (those that include reductions from renewable energy purchases) and air travel emissions reached 555,127 metric tons of CO2e last financial year, up from 499,776 in FY09.

Contractual absolute scope 1 and 2 emissions, on their own, are down four percent from 2007, compared to 12 percent the previous year and 35 percent in FY08.

The company’s scope 1 and 2 gross emissions intensity, however, has fallen for the second straight year, from 16.2 to 15.5 metric tons of CO2e per million US$ revenue.

Cisco’s emissions data all refers to financial years, while its emissions reduction goal refers to calendar years. Cisco notes that its corporate GHG reduction goal was set as part of U.S. EPA Climate Leaders program, which has since been discontinued. That program required a calendar year baseline. Cisco is reporting emissions using financial year data, “to avoid reporting both calendar and fiscal year data,” the company says.

Cisco has declared product energy efficiency and operational energy consumption to be its most material environmental challenges, both in Tier 1 of its materiality ranking. Product end-of-life follows in Tier 2.

The ranking is as follows:

1 Product energy efficiency
Energy consumption (operations)
2 Waste (product end of life)
3 Transport emissions (from product logistics)
Potential water pollution (liquid effluents)
Waste (packaging )
4 Waste (operational “trash”)
Controlled substances
Water use
Biodiversity and land use
5 Hazardous waste
Non-GHG airborne emissions

The company says it has met a commitment under the Clinton Global Initiative, to reduce GHG emissions from all Cisco business air travel worldwide by 10 percent on an absolute basis, against an FY 2006 baseline.

Cisco says that in FY11, it conserved about 16.9 million kWh of energy and avoided 7,400 metric tonnes of CO2e emissions by investing $1.9 million in energy conservation projects. Twenty-six percent of Cisco’s global energy use was from renewable sources.

The company says its energy and GHG reduction efforts include increasing use of Cisco technology to collaborate remotely, avoiding emissions from business travel, with employees engaging in 23 million people-hours of web conferencing in FY11, up from 19.3 million in 2010. It is also expanding use of Cisco Connected Workplace to reduce office space needs through its new building space policy, approved in FY11.

Its energy efficiency projects focus on engineering labs that represent over 60 percent of Cisco’s electricity use, with a new lab energy program expected to save 30,000 tonnes of CO2e emissions by improving building energy efficiency, installing power monitoring and control technologies, and engaging lab employees in energy-saving initiatives. By the end of FY11, 23 Cisco facilities had achieved certification under the LEED new construction rating system, and the company says it is integrating environmental requirements into its leasing terms.

In FY11, it installed solar photovoltaic systems at two of its data centers, and says it will use the experience of these pilot systems to assess the potential for wider implementation.

In July 2011, Cisco was listed ninth among the National Top 50 and seventh among Fortune 500 companies in the EPA’s Green Power Partnership rankings. It was also rated the #1 IT company, and the #5 company overall, based responses to the Carbon Disclosure Project’s 2011 Investor survey.

During FY11 Cisco refurbished, resold or reused over 2,005 tons of equipment returned to the company. It has reused over $200 million of Cisco equipment in each of the last three fiscal years.

The company’s environmental goals include:

  • Include partner CDP reporting status in performance scorecard for preferred suppliers
  • Complete the deployment of a new Sustainability Information System to more efficiently monitor and report GRI environmental performance indicators
  • Continue to invest in the development of the ICT Sector Supplement to the GHG Protocol Scope 3/Product standards
  • Establish a metric for the emissions impact of reduced employee commuting enabled by the use of its collaborative technologies
  • Roll out EnergyWise-enabled power distribution units in its major engineering labs worldwide
  • Extend electric vehicle charging stations to other locations beyond San Jose in FY12 and FY13
  • Engage with customers to improve on product re-use and metrics for recycling of its products
  • Expand Cisco Connected Workplace to more of its buildings, reducing the need to expand its real estate footprint as business growth continues
  • Establish a new GHG emissions reduction goal for the years after 2012.

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