HP has become the latest vendor to attempt to improve its green credentials with the announcement this week that it is to team up with the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) US arm as part of a major five point programme to tackle climate change.
Under the initiative HP has committed to work with WWF-US to identify the best technology and practices to reduce energy use at all HP-owned and HP-leased facilities worldwide, cutting the company's annual carbon dioxide emissions by 15 percent by 2010 in the process. It has also committed to investigate and purchase cost effective renewable energy, which doesn't tie it to switching all facilities to green energy but at least implies that it will do so where possible.
The company has said it will report and verify its progress, based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and the World Economic Forum's Global Greenhouse Gas Registry.
Beyond its own facilities HP said it will develop energy efficiency metrics for its product categories and work with the WWF to "develop goals for improved product performance and report publicly on progress towards those goals". Again the wording of this commitment leaves HP free to not publish its actual goals with regards to energy efficiency just its progress towards them, but the pledge does still commit it to making continual progress in this area.
Fourthly, and perhaps most importantly, HP has said it "will define and implement educational efforts to address climate change with key stakeholders and highlight best practices adopted by consumers and businesses". Precisely what this means is open to conjecture, but it suggests HP will lean on its many suppliers who are responsible for the huge quantities of carbon emitted during the production process of IT equipment.
According to some estimates far more pollution is produced during the manufacturing process of IT equipment than is released from powering that equipment during its operational life and therefore any attempt by a purchaser as powerful as HP to encourage component suppliers to clean up their act would be hugely welcome.
Finally, HP has committed to developing technology to help scientific projects to monitor and tackle climate change. An initial project will see HP fund a programme to assess the impact of climate change on wildlife in the Bering Sea.
It is a bold move from HP to make such commitments - even if there is only one quantifiable target that has been made public - and the various initiatives are likely to play well with customers increasingly committed to finding environmentally responsible suppliers.
But where HP has been particularly astute - and where other firms considering major carbon reduction programmes can learn a lesson - is in enlisting the support of a globally recognised non-for-profit, independent organisation.
WWF's direct involvement in the project is likely to reassure all observers that HP is engaged in a genuine carbon reduction programme, rather than just a publicity exercise, and give customers confidence that they won't have to keep such a close eye on their suppliers' progress because the WWF will do it for them.
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