An ‘Absolute’ Approach to Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction

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The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change concluded in October 2006 that "stabilization requires that annual emissions be brought down to more than 80 percent below current levels" by mid-century and if un-addressed "the overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5 percent of global GDP each year to 20 percent of GDP or more". Alternatively, the report suggests "the costs of action – reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change – can be limited to around 1 percent of global GDP each year". In other words, according to this cost and benefit analysis, we must reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

In 2007, The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) asserted in its fourth assessment report that "continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century". IPCC concludes: "developed countries as a group would need to reduce their emissions 10 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 40 percent to 95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, even if developing countries make substantial reductions."

In December 2007, building on the Stern Review, McKinsey & Company released a report titled Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: How Much at What Cost, and concluded that "reductions should involve pursuing a wide array of abatement options with the average net cost being far lower if sizable energy efficiency gains can be captured". In June 2008, as part of the SMART2020 report, McKinsey & Company further showed that although the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector is responsible for about 2 percent of global GHG emissions – and this figure is expected to double by 2020 – it has the potential to deliver a net carbon savings five times larger than its own impacts by 2020 by enabling energy efficiencies in other sectors.

Dell supports global efforts to address the potential impacts of climate change – as can be seen in our commitment and action. We support reducing emissions to levels guided by science, and are actively focusing on energy efficiency and transitioning to cleaner and renewable forms of electricity in our operations. We’ve steadily reduced the energy consumption of our product portfolio while simultaneously enhancing performance, and last year we set a goal to improve the efficiency of our products another 25 percent by 2010.  Moreover, Dell is committed to reduce global GHG emissions from our operations by 40 percent from 2007 to 2015 through increasing operational energy efficiency, utilizing on-site renewable energy and purchasing additional green power.

As Todd mentioned in his post earlier today, our environmental initiatives are fueled and guided in large part by ideas and input submitted by you. Keep them coming. We’re listening. 

About the Author: Mark Newton

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