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Gore on Green: “business leaders are way ahead of political leaders”

March 19, 2008
at 12:00 pm PST

As noted in this space last week, an “EcoPanel” took place today with former U.S. VP Al Gore and Cisco CEO John Chambers via Cisco TelePresence. You can view a replay of the conversation here.VoiceCon Gore Chambers Bostrom 2008.jpgFrom left: Cisco CEO John Chambers in San Jose, CA; former VP Al Gore in Nashville, TN; ITN correspondent Lawrence McGinty in London; and Cisco Chief Marketing Officer Sue Bostrom in Orlando, FL(Photo by Alex Dunne via Flickr)CNET Reporter Martin LaMonica has a good write-up of the conversation. He states, in part, “Gore spoke from a location near his home in Nashville, Tenn., while Chambers was in San Jose, Calif., and the moderator of the event--ITN science editor Lawrence McGinty--spoke from outside London. People could watch over the Web and audiences listened and watched from the VoiceCon conference in Orlando, outside London, Warsaw, Dubai, and Paris.The multi-location format drove home the basic point of the event: the Internet can help more people collaborate, something that is essential to solving the difficult challenge of climate change.”LaMonica continues that Sue Bostrom, our EVP and Chief Marketing Officer, who was on the panel in Orlando, said that our “use of videoconferencing at 185 locations has saved the company about $100 million in travel expenses, eliminating about 15 million cubic tons of carbon emissions.” Speaking personally, I had a TelePresence session with some colleagues in North Carolina recently…and while I wouldn’t have normally traveled for that meeting (although there was a request that I do it in person), I can tell you that the effectiveness of the meeting was much more impactful than had we just done a teleconference. And, of course, I got to spend a little time with my family over the holidays via TelePresence so count me as a fan.

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4 Comments.


  1. What on earth is meant by 15 million cubic tons of carbon emissions”" If you are going to quote what reporters say please make sure it makes sense. Is this a misquote, or did Sue really say this? I suspect it should be 15 million cubic feet. 15 million tons is an awful lot of CO2!”

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  2. In 2002, it seemed like most businesses (from largest to smallest) were very motivated to replace a lot of physical meetings, conferences, and seminars with virtual online meetings, conferences, and seminars… largely because so many were afraid to travel.Plus on top of that, overlay tight economic times and reduced travel budgets, and it seemed like everything was perfectly aligned and right for offline events to go the way of the rotary dial phone.Then within a few years, things changed. The housing boom brought economic prosperity. People got comfortable traveling by plane again and physical offline events got a rebound.Then in 2006/2007 the housing market tanked, the dollar weakened, and oil prices spiked above $100/barrel.So is it green concerns, budget-cutting concerns, or fear of travel that will ultimately fuel the most sustained growth in Cisco TelePresence? or all of the above?And will economic malaise in an election year stifle or accelerate more widespread adoption of virtual meetings?

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  3. Hey joshua.. nice comments by you..Actually, the growth of Video-conferencing and Cisco’s telepresence depends on numerous factors including fuel costs, time spent to travel and the means of travelling to a certain place.

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  4. The first thing to greening your business is to engage people- by getting them to understand what their role is in the process and that they have the ability to make change. You also have to have a system or process in place that gives people guidance on what steps they need to take to achieve their carbon reduction targets.An environmental management system accredited to the globally recognised standard, ISO 14001, gets you to the point whereby people understand where their impacts are, but then you need to get underneath it all to really understand the details – where is the carbon coming from and how can we reduce it? That’s where carbon footprinting can really help. This will help develop your targets and identify ways that will really make a difference.The next point to consider is metering and energy data collection, and knowing where to go on a macro level. This gives you the ability to look at your consumption data in detail and at what equipment has been running for too long, and so on. You can’t just think about carbon reduction as avoiding fines or doing it because you feel your business has to do it because of external pressures. Examining your carbon impact and reducing is about creating a sustainable and efficient business where energy and other waste is identified and controlled.

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