Cisco Blogs

The Green Backbone for Climate Change

- December 5, 2008 - 20 Comments

“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we had when we created them.” EinsteinimageIn the 1990s, we watched the Internet change the standard of living around the world and I’ve always believed that our industry could have a huge impact on the environment and climate change as well. The recent Smart 2020 Report by The Climate Group says that Information Communications Technology (ICT) could have a 22 percent reduction in global Greenhouse Gas (GhG) emissions by 2020. That’s more than the annual emissions of the U.S. or China! Over the next century, the network will be the green backbone that enables innovative solutions to global environmental challenges.Today, people no longer have to take planes, trains or automobiles to meet in person to get things done. Many of us are now riding the Internet to work and using new Web 2.0 collaboration tools like Unified Communications, TelePresence and Webex to get our jobs done anywhere, anytime and anyplace. These technologies are bringing together people from all over the world, with diverse views, and a singular passion for solving problems like climate change in new ways. It’s this combined power of collaboration and innovation that will create the most sustainable impact on climate change.At Cisco, we believe the Internet is changing the way we work, live play and learn in a more sustainable way. While we are working hard to address what we can impact externally with our customers, governments and thru advocacy, we are also very focused on achieving our own green goals. We recently made a commitment to reduce our GhG emissions via the U.S. EPA Climate Leaders 25% absolute by 2012. We would not have been able to make and meet this commitment without two critical elements, the Cisco EcoBoard and the Cisco Environmental Data Tool (EDT). The EcoBoard is our cross-functional group of leaders that ensures we have a long-term vision, strategy, and governance structure so we’re all moving in the same green direction. Our EDT is an IP-based tool for monitoring, managing and tracking GhGs, that we have made available to the public free of charge.Climate change is a significant problem and no one person, company or country will be able to solve it. According to Gartner, ICT represents approximately 2% of global GhG emissions. While this is a significant challenge, we see the opportunity for the 2% to reduce the other 98%. In essence, ICT has the power to have a much bigger green impact on the rest of the world’s carbon footprint. As the green backbone, the network will be the platform to monitor, manage, and better use the globe’s valuable natural resources in the future.We hope that our new Ecolibrium blog will provide a place to grow our collective ideas about how technology can impact the other 98%. We have an opportunity to use technology to create a new environmental balance. As Einstein noted, “the same level of thinking” isn’t going to cut it. So please, join the conversation, throw out an idea, add to someone else’s idea–it’s easy and it’s powerful. I also encourage you to read our “Strategies for Going Green” visit our new Environmental Sustainability Website, or listen to my podcast on Cisco’s Green Vision. Thanks for checking out our new Ecolibrium blog!

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  1. I sincerely hope that Cisco will respond to Greenpeace's call. It would be very effective and beneficial for this industry as well as for anyone.We are waiting for you !

  2. I am encouraged that Cisco is working hard to address the impacts of climate change, and doing what they can to become a greener company. Cisco can do more by taking on Greenpeace's IT Climate Leadership Challenge. First, Cisco can publicly call for global regulation for developed nations to cut emissions by at least 30 percent at the Copenhagen climate talks, in December 2009. Second, they can lobby their own national government to get on board with a strong climate deal. Third, they can measure the company's absolute emissions and commit to cut them by at least 20 percent by 2012. Fourth, they can make sure that company operations and manufacturing uses one-quarter renewable energy by 2012. And finally, they can prioritize those technologies and product development lines that cut greenhouse emissions across the economy. I'm hoping that Cisco will take on Greenpeace's IT Climate Leadership Challenge, and become one of the greenest companies in the IT Sector.

  3. I's great to see that there's people working very hard for this cause and i think that, with the help of gouverments and big companies, if we ALL do little things we could solve this problem faster.

  4. Thanks guys for giving some thought to our poor planet! Keep it up! The world needs more heroes...

  5. I'm glad you are soing something! If you don't work for a difference, there won't be an Earth where you can sell your products on anymore!And costumers love green technologies!

  6. I hope that John Cahmbers will become a role model to other IT leaders when he takes up Greenpeace 's IT Climate Leadership Challenge. We all know that time is running out and that action must be taken now by all of us including business leaders to reduce the impact of climate change.

  7. Clearly much good work has been done by Cisco to mitigate its climate change and environmental impacts. But, please, never be satisfied, always strive to do more, and take the industry with you! A public commitment to the Greenpeace IT Climate Leadership Challenge would be a great signal. Thank you.Phil

  8. Come on Cisco, show the industry how they IT can be green!

  9. Thank you, Cisco, for quickly responding to the Greenpeace challenge post. 44% of your energy consumption in the US is from renewables; unfortunately, Global Warming is not merely an American problem. What proportion of your total energy consumption profile does that 44% make up? What is Cisco doing today to source renewable energy for manufacturing sectors?The Planetary Skin project may be well and good for assisting future mitigation of climate change, but there is no scientific need for more evidence of the reality of Global Warming. What assessment has been made of the carbon footprint of this project? How can Cisco be certain that the data from this project will not used in military action against the innocent billions who have not contributed to the carbon in the atmosphere, but stand to disproportionately suffer from it? What is Cisco's stand on Cap and Trace schemes vs. Cap and 100% Dividend proposals?

  10. Raise your green profile and show up the greed and 'bully boy' tactics of the big polluters. Don't leave it too long..time is running out

  11. Please act quickly and strongly, our future doesn't wait. Your own children will be thankfull for that.

  12. As noted above, not only has Cisco developed the Environmental Data Tool (EDT) to collect GhG data from our real-estate portfolio, we have made it available to the public free of charge. To gain free access to WebEx Connect and the EDT, please send a message to

  13. Hi Laura,Thanks for the detailed reply, good to see Cisco's commitment to absolute emissions reductions and renewable energy use. We are still looking for clear CEO level support for a Kyoto agreement with 40 percent cuts for industrialized countries and how Cisco is influencing the US government to support these levels of cuts. I'll send you a follow up mail.Cheers,TomGreenpeace

  14. Keep up the good work! People need this and this is the future. Moreover it's obvious that environmentally friendly companies' brand image is so much stronger this way.

  15. Please become leaders in a greener electronics industry. Leading the way will earn you respect and the business of future generations.We need a new way. Be radical. If technology is clever enough to achieve all that has been achieved in the last 100 years, it is clever enough to overhaul the electronics industry and head for a cleaner, less wasteful, greener future.

  16. Hello from Australia,Lots of people are watching from Australia and elsewhere like me to see the growing move toward more responsible action by big business.

  17. Where do you download the Environmental Data Tool? I can't find a link for it anywhere.

  18. Vernon and Maria, you should both contact Brian Suckow for a demo

  19. Hello Laura, Maria and Marie.... I would agree 100% that without tools, we will never be able to measure where. how much, and the progress being made. May I ask to get a look at the PPT and the calculator?Warm regardsVernon TurnerSnr Vice PresidentIDC

  20. The Environmental Data Tool is a great way for companies to assess what is their carbon impact today. Without knowing where you are, it's hard to assess where you are making a difference. Thanks for highlighting how Cisco is assessing it's carbon impact.