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Climate action through IT

Justin Sutton-Parker, CEO of Px3, on the new tool helping organisations understand – and slash – their carbon footprint
Lower CO2 emissions and carbon footprint to limit global warming and climate change

This article first appeared in our Earth Day 2023 issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published on 22 April 2023. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Did you know that information technology (IT) generates more than 2.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions?

Removing the carbon this sector pumps into our atmosphere each year would require the photosynthesising power of 56 billion trees. In context, that’s almost 13 trees for every computer user on the planet.

The impact is caused predominantly by computer manufacturing and use. As an example, 460 million end-user computing devices are produced every year and IT energy use is responsible for 12% of all commercial electricity consumption. 

Understanding our IT carbon footprint can help to drive behavioural change; we can seek computers with the lowest carbon footprint and keep them for longer periods to slow new product demand.

While this all makes sense, organisations that buy end-user computers at scale often struggle to take even the first step in determining the carbon footprint associated with their actions.

Scope 3 supply chain data are specific to device types, comparing desktops with thin clients and notebooks with tablets, for example.

Data for scope 2 emissions can also be difficult to work with, as various manufacturers use different calculation methods when producing reports.

Carbon footprint tool

To overcome these challenges, Px3 has launched a free-to-use online end-user computing carbon footprint tool for Earth Day 2023.

Simply input the number of computing devices your organisation has by type – for example notebooks, desktops or tablets – then add what country or geographic region you operate in and how long you usually keep the devices. The tool will produce results in the blink of an eye.

With scope 2 and 3 data included, you will also see which areas are contributing most to your impact, and how many trees would be required to sequester the annual carbon emissions that result.

The data powering the calculation are delivered by PhD research undertaken at the University of Warwick, specialising in the reduction of IT-related GHG emissions. 

As a representation of your organisation’s end-user computing carbon footprint, results from the science-driven carbon footprint tool are the closest you’ll get to engaging a full audit from the IT sustainability specialists at Px3.

Once you have an idea of your carbon footprint, it would also be worth adding sustainability as a criterion when selecting future computers.

To simplify this second step, Px3 marked Earth Day 2022 by launching the world’s first Dynamic Carbon Footprint application, which is now helping IT and procurement teams responsible for over 3 million users to assess and rank new computers by carbon footprint.

Changing behaviour

Px3 doesn’t sell IT; it is a research and consulting organisation with a singular focus: to reduce the impact of IT on the planet.

Using frameworks, methods and applications, Px3 determines your organisation’s entire IT carbon footprint from devices to data centres, creates a strategy for reduction of both GHG emissions and associated costs and monitors progress from year to year to ensure IT is contributing to the net zero aspirations you have for your company.

Why is the online app free? It’s because increasing awareness of responsible production and consumption of IT is vital if we are to achieve our company’s goal to cumulatively abate 10,000,000 kgCO2e of GHG emissions every year through the diffusion of sustainable IT.

In fact, as a result of large-scale changes to procurement and use behaviours, by 2035 a volume of carbon that would require the photosynthesis of 250,000 acres of forest will no longer enter our atmosphere.

We hope you enjoy our new tool and use it to start your journey to drive climate action through IT.

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