Understanding carbon impact across the digital value chain

Categories: SustainabilityTechnology

As we’ve discussed before on this blog, one of the main roadblocks on the path to decarbonising our digital economy is the disconnect between our digital habits and the carbon cost of our activities. 

Increasing the global understanding of the connection between our digital activities and their associated carbon impact is one of the most powerful tools we have to accelerate a rapid transition to net zero. 

The good news is, there are already companies taking steps to bridge this digital disconnect and make progress toward a more sustainable digital economy. 

Companies like Method, GoCodeGreen (GCG) and GlobalLogic are leading the charge with innovative solutions to reduce their operation’s carbon footprints and provide a path for others to follow.  

Providing actionable insights 

As GoCodeGreen’s Eric Zie points out, part of the problem is the perception of digital activities. 

“The reduction of physical things we do has a benefit, but the hidden side effects of that digital value chain aren’t really understood. How do we change that? Those that understand technology are going to change it” 

GoCodeGreen has been at the forefront of this effort, highlighting how digital activities have a real-world carbon impact. For most of us, streaming a song on Spotify is entirely disconnected from the fact that this one action can generate as much as 4180 tonnes of Co2 per year. The streaming of the hit song “Despacito” alone generated more carbon than the combined annual electricity consumption of six smaller African countries. 

By codifying the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol ICT Sector Guidance, GCG is enabling the ICT industry to better understand its impact and rethink what low-carbon technology truly looks like. 

As Zie notes, “You need actionable insights to start to reduce carbon; providing those insights gives the opportunity to make a difference to a company’s zero-carbon journey.” 

GCG is a key player in this effort, helping companies understand their impact and take action to reduce their carbon footprint. By providing data-driven insights into how much energy individual activities are consuming, GCG helps organisations better plan for energy use and optimise operations. 

Designing for a greener future 

Wanting a carbon-light digital profile is all well and good, but how do you balance that with wanting the best experience for the customer? Creating more sustainable products that meet customer needs and expectations also requires designers to think about the bigger picture. 

Method’s Responsible Design philosophy is a great example of this in action. Responsible Design takes into account the whole product life cycle, from manufacturing to consumption and disposal. Its principles are rooted in using resources responsibly, reducing waste, and finding innovative ways to create better experiences for customers. 

This approach leads to products that have a reduced environmental impact, higher customer satisfaction ratings, and increased longevity. By considering these factors in the design process, companies can create products that are both sustainable and desirable. 

Method’s Sandrine Herbert-Razafinjato notes, “This is the journey into digital sustainability, and we need a systemic change around how people behave and consume. We should change the way that we design and engineer.” 

As Herbert-Razafinjato is quick to point out, the core of responsible design requires a mindset shift. The planet should be considered as a stakeholder in the design process, and engineers should create products with the environment’s health in mind.  

Ideally, this will lead to a broader paradigm shift in which companies weigh sustainability as an essential component of their operations. More than just a competitive advantage, good environmental stewardship can become a cornerstone of a company’s brand equity and long-term success. 

The concept of responsible design is increasingly gaining traction, with more and more people becoming aware of its importance. The movement can be further bolstered by setting guidelines for companies to follow in terms of designing their products and services, as well as providing incentives for those who actively strive to reduce their environmental impact. 

Increase transparency and responsibility 

It is, of course, hard to make an impact without knowing the facts. Companies need to be able to track their environmental impact and ensure they are making progress toward creating a more sustainable future. This means actively measuring and reducing emissions, waste, water consumption, energy usage and other factors associated with their operations. 

By providing real-time analytical data, companies can gain far better insight into their environmental impact and develop an action plan to reduce it. This can be done through the implementation of automated systems, as well as improved reporting and analysis. 

Additionally, by regularly publishing results and goals publicly, companies can increase their transparency and accountability around sustainability efforts. 

As Jacquie Perryman from GlobalLogic notes, “Financial and ESG data is vital. How green are your investments? If you are not investing in fossil fuels and gas – what are you investing in?” 

Having this kind of data freely available to the public helps to promote trust and encourages organisations to be more open about their sustainability efforts. This kind of transparency is essential for creating positive change in the long term. 

Finally, it’s important that companies strive to create an organisational culture that prioritises sustainability initiatives. To do this, they should ensure employees are educated on the importance of sustainability and have access to the necessary resources to develop their knowledge in this area. 

 Companies could also create rewards and incentives for employees who help the organisation reach its sustainability goals. This could prove to be an important step towards creating a sustainable company culture that encourages innovation, collaboration, and positive change.  

By taking these steps, organisations can ensure they are doing their part to protect the environment and build a better future for their employees. 

Creating a carbon-zero digital future 

By trailblazing a carbon-zero digital future, businesses like Method, GoCodeGreen, and GlobalLogic are driving breakthroughs in technology and innovation. With systemic changes needed to make the transition to a carbon-zero digital future, these companies are at the forefront of creating ambitious plans to reduce emissions and establish sustainable operations. 

Next step 

It’s time to take ownership of your ESG targets. If you’d like to discuss how to accurately measure, monitor and begin to decrabonise your digital, book an introductory call with the team today. 


Image by DCStudio on Freepik


GlobalLogic Marketing

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