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Carbon Net-Negative for the IT Industry

Last week Al Gore won the Nobel prize for his work on the science of global climate change. Of course, before his passion for ecology, he was also a leading advocate for the Internet-and it’s interesting to consider how these two issues can go hand in hand. Today a growing proportion of business is e-business. How many transactions happen in the virtual world today that are no longer copied, faxed, or shipped? The nature of the Internet in itself is green and Web 2.0 is fueling more opportunities to go green. We believe that new innovations in technology will have the power to achieve a climate positive effect- that technology can help reduce carbon emissions globally more than the technology industry itself emits.While technology alone will not solve climate change, there is a huge opportunity to leverage it to enable efficiencies and new models of how we all work, live, play and learn. Today, information technology is responsible for an estimated two percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. It is important for the IT industry not only to produce technologies that eliminate hazardous materials, but also to create new efficiencies and business models for our customers to go green.At Cisco, we believe the next generation of the Internet is the power of collaboration. ‘Carbon-lite’ travel will be possible using TelePresence technology and WebEx collaboration suites. Web-based applications have the power to monitor, manage and better utilize energy sources. They are also providing new opportunities to collaborate on green solutions from the siting and building of new data centers, to driving new efficiencies in our buildings. Yesterday I met with a unique company, Sempervirens, the first organization to preserve California’s redwoods, founded in 1900. It reminded me how important it is to remember the old as well as the new. Some of the biggest giants of green are right in our backyard here in the Bay Area-the acres of old growth redwood forests. These trees sequester 500 tons of CO2 per acre. While we are busy doing the right thing and planting new trees, let’s make sure to hold on to our older ones, too!

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