IBM announced that it achieved two major commitments four years ahead of schedule in its effort to help combat climate change.
“IBM has been one of industry's earliest and unambiguous leaders regarding climate change, having publicly launched our first specific CO2 emissions reduction goal in 2000 and having published a formal position in 2007. The achievements we're announcing today are a testament to our longstanding commitment to protecting our planet by delivering action and results," said Wayne Balta, IBM Vice President of Corporate Environmental Affairs and Product Safety. “We know that businesses must play a leadership role in the fight against climate change, and we continue to lead by reducing our own operational impact and by developing innovative solutions to help our clients do the same."
Goal 1: Reduce CO2 emissions associated with IBM’s energy consumption 35% by year-end 2020 against base year 2005 (adjusted for acquisitions and divestitures). IBM achieved 38.1% at year-end 2016, which is approximately equivalent to the emissions associated with the consumption of 1.8 million barrels of oil.
IBM's latest accomplishments in relation to CO2 emissions is a result of a decades-long effort throughout which the company has set and met aggressive reduction goals. In fact, by 2005 IBM had already reduced CO2 emissions to 40% of the company's 1990 emissions.
Goal 2: Procure electricity from renewable sources for 20% of IBM’s annual electricity consumption by 2020. IBM achieved 21.5% at year-end 2016, which is enough to power about 60,000 homes for 1 year. If we also count renewable electricity within the grid mix IBM receives, then 40.1% of IBM’s electricity supply across its managed spaces came from renewable sources.
IBM set these ambitious goals in February 2015 and subsequently assigned them to the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, a commitment by hundreds of companies demonstrating their support for action on climate change. By the end of 2016, IBM had exceeded both of those commitments four years ahead of schedule.
Between 1990 and 2016, the company had conserved 7.2 million MWh of electricity, avoiding 4.4 million metric tons of CO2 emissions and saving over $600 million. The emissions avoidance is equivalent to taking 900,000 cars off the road for a year.
In addition to supporting the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, IBM voiced its support for a global climate agreement in 2015. Earlier this month, IBM reaffirmed its support for the Paris Agreement and signed on to the WeAreStillIn pledge, voicing its commitment to help lead the global fight against climate change.
Cognitive, Weather Models, and Analytics Advance the Use of Renewable Energy
IBM has made major investments in the use of powerful weather models and analytic and cognitive capabilities to develop highly accurate forecasting tools for electricity demand as well as solar and wind-power generation. These tools enable better use of available renewable generation and more effectively integrate new capacity into the grid. In February 2017, IBM and VELCO announced the creation of Utopus Insights, Inc., a new energy analytics company that provides open source application programming interfaces for improved energy forecasting on the grid. New insights from situational forecasting and cognitive technologies provide a more accurate understanding of the amount of power available from renewable sources, reducing risks and costs associated with the electricity grid and enabling the widespread use of renewable energy.
Partnerships for Environmental Sustainability
While focused on improving its operational performance and helping clients do likewise, IBM has worked over many years with partners across the public, private and nongovernmental sectors to advance environmental sustainability. Examples include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, The European Union, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, the Chicago Climate Exchange, the Conference Board, the Conservation Fund, the Environmental Law Institute, The Nature Conservancy, the World Environment Center, the World Resources Institute, and the World Wildlife Fund.
In 2016, IBM joined Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance and became a founding member of the SMARTer2030 Action Coalition. Earlier this year the company also joined the U.S. Water Partnership.
Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance works to make navigating the path to renewables easier by connecting corporate demand to renewable energy supply and by helping utilities better understand the serve the needs of corporations.
SMARTer2030 Action Coalition is an initiative of leading companies, governments, multilaterals, eNGOs, thought leaders, and community-based organizations promoting an agenda that implements “smart” information and communications technology (ICT)-enabled solutions to advance a low-carbon economy.
U.S. Water Partnership’s mission is to unite and mobilize the best of U.S. expertise, resources and ingenuity to address global water challenges, with a special focus on developing countries where needs are greatest.
In March 2017, IBM won its 5th Climate Leadership Award from the U.S. EPA, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, and The Climate Registry during the program's six year history. IBM is the first company to earn this award in each of the award program's four organizational categories of competition.