Eco-sustainability is a critical global issue. It must be embraced as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) priority. But it is also a business opportunity, one that we owe to our investors and customers to pursue. Growing through green will accelerate investment in innovation, create and drive new markets, and spark fundamental business and social transformation. Success in global markets will go to the companies and nations who reduce and better manage everyone’s carbon footprints.
In September of this year at the World Economic Forum in Dalian, I said I believe there are 3 crises in the world today: a financial crisis, a crisis in confidence and the climate change crisis. Green is the way forward. It will help us find innovative ways of responding to the first 2 crises, while meeting the demands of our citizens, and it will ultimately drive growth.
The °Climate Group and Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) stated in their June 2008 report that effective use of technology could “…reduce annual man-made global emissions by 15 percent by 2020…. ICT’s unique ability to monitor and maximise energy efficiency both within and outside of its own sector could cut CO2 emissions by up to five times. This represents a savings greater than the current annual emissions of either the U.S. or China.” 1
The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector is in a unique position to help. ICT directly impacts approximately 2% of the world’s carbon footprint and, given the industry’s growth, it could increase to 4% by 2020. In addition, the ICT sector can have a multiplier effect on cutting the other 98% of carbon emissions.
Turning altruistic ideals into action
Global public policy support at all levels will be critical. I believe that within 3 to 5 years we will have mandatory reporting standards on issues of climate change and sustainability, in the same way that we have financial reporting today.
Still, businesses will not incur risks without some guarantees. Taxation changes are needed that reward innovation and enforce energy efficiency design programs for new products and services. Incentives can help create and sustain the virtuous circle of purchase-investment-innovation-purchase. Public investment in pure research, as well as accelerating product realization, will be required to get the job done.
The path forward
We intend to not just do our fair share, but to champion this green imperative. Alcatel-Lucent is uniquely positioned to lead our industry. We participate in and, in many instances, chair the standards bodies creating the road maps for moving ahead. Just as important, we are turning to our Bell Labs researchers to push the envelope on what is achievable by focusing on breakthroughs to increase energy efficiency — such as alternative energy and dynamic power solutions, heat sinks, and active antenna arrays.
To help keep our industry’s 2% carbon emissions from growing, Alcatel-Lucent is continuing to further improve key products’ energy efficiency another 20% by 2010, over what we have already achieved since 2008. However, the more significant impact will be seen in our role as enablers for other industries as we develop the services and applications that help them reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.
Today’s climate change challenge is an opportunity. Yet many of us are only seeing it as something inconvenient that we’re hoping will go away — despite all evidence to the contrary. Coming out of the United Nations Climate Change Conference will be a set of new guidelines and recommendations. This is an important leadership opportunity for ICT. Alcatel-Lucent is committed and I invite you to join us in taking on this challenge.
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