For the past 200 years, the industrial developments required to manufacture and operate new technology have contributed to a global condition widely known as climate change. However, more and more governments and industrial institutions are acknowledging this connection and implementing policies and programs in response. They are committing to pivot their industry towards new practices that slow, or even stop, the rising temperatures that have led to extreme climate events, such as the 2021 West Coast heat wave in the U.S.
Climate change is not just a concern for large enterprises and governments, who are often held more accountable for their corrective responses, but for small businesses as well. The direct impact of climate change for SMBs include increased operating costs, the need for more insurance coverage, lost productivity due to disruptive weather events, and the costs of preventive and corrective measures. Let's unpack what it means to pursue carbon reduction and greater climate resiliency:
What is Carbon Neutrality?
Carbon neutrality refers to maintaining a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere into natural carbon sinks. Achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions often means counterbalancing worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with carbon sequestration.
Carbon sequestration is the process of eliminating carbon emissions from the atmosphere for safe storage. This process transforms GHG emissions into stable solid and liquid forms via three methods:
Carbon offsetting is another helpful tool for carbon neutrality. This process offsets emissions made in one sector by reducing them elsewhere. Investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency initiatives, and low-carbon technologies facilitate these carbon reduction programs.
What does it mean to be Carbon Negative?
A simple definition for “going carbon negative” is when an entity successfully removes more carbon from the atmosphere than it generates. As a more ambitious initiative than carbon neutrality, the methods of achieving a carbon negative state are still very similar and include reforestation, soil carbon sequestration, and the utilization of emerging and innovative carbon capture technologies.
With hundreds of companies setting net-zero targets in just the last decade, trailblazing organizations are more motivated than ever to pave a viable path to greater climate resiliency. Now that we have laid the groundwork, let’s consider our top vendors who support carbon neutrality:
Net Friends is a Microsoft Gold Partner, and that helps us deliver a leading suite of collaborative tools and stellar managed IT services to our clients. We are also delighted that Microsoft recently announced that their aim to become carbon negative by 2030. Furthermore, by 2050 Microsoft says it will remove all the carbon it has emitted directly or indirectly (via electrical consumption) since its establishment in 1975.
With the world watching its lead, Microsoft intends to achieve this goal using a Certified Carbon Neutral Global Standard program for carbon reduction to decrease emissions by more than 50% by 2030. This reduction effort applies to its direct emissions and its entire supply and value chain. The company will fund this initiative by increasing its internal carbon fee (established in 2012) levied on all business operations.
Microsoft also has other carbon neutral initiatives, such as using its technology to help suppliers and customers worldwide reduce their carbon footprints. Furthermore, Microsoft will implement a new $1 billion climate innovation fund to support global carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies.
This year, Microsoft will make carbon reduction an explicit procurement requirement for its supply chain. The company will also publish an Environmental Sustainability Report as a chronicle of its progress to ensure a transparent carbon neutral program. Finally, Microsoft will continue to advocate for public policy that prioritizes emissions reporting, carbon reduction, and carbon neutrality.
Apple is another household name committing to become 100% carbon neutral in its products and supply chain by 2030. Although Apple is already carbon neutral by current corporate emissions standards worldwide, it’s on track for net-zero carbon dioxide emissions a full two decades earlier than the IPCC targets.
The company intends to lower its carbon emissions by 75% by 2030. Apple will also develop and leverage innovative carbon removal solutions to eliminate the remaining 25% of its carbon footprint. Apple pursues a set of extensive carbon reduction initiatives to ensure that every device sold by 2030 will have a net-zero climate impact. A few of these initiatives include:
- Low-carbon technologies and product design that emphasizes product recycling and highly engineered processes.
- Greater energy efficiency to minimize energy usage at Apple’s corporate facilities and all along its supply chain.
- A continued renewable energy emphasis in all its operations.
- Process and material innovations that support net-zero carbon dioxide emissions.
- Carbon reduction and removal by investing in forests and other natural carbon sinks for carbon sequestration.
Furthermore, Apple is establishing programs that invest in minority-owned enterprises. These investments promote good outcomes along the supply chain and in these minority communities as they are often disproportionately affected by environmental hazards.
Palo Alto Networks
Net Friends is also a Palo Alto Networks NextWave Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) Partner. This alliance helps us offer high-performance and comprehensive cybersecurity solutions for our valued clients. Palo Alto Networks has also committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030. Palo Alto Networks will accomplish its carbon neutrality goal by:
- Relying exclusively on renewable energy for its offices worldwide.
- Reducing its carbon emissions in alignment with leading, science-based targets.
- Investing in high-performance carbon offsetting activities for any remaining emissions.
Palo Alto Networks has always been committed to environmentally conscious initiatives, such as recycling, waste reduction, green advocacy, and sustainability volunteerism. The company also commits to measurable, transparent results by participating in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and sharing their progress using the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework.
Net Friends’ Environmental Journey
Net Friends is committed to our own journey towards social responsibility to create a more sustainable future and practice with technology. We aim to influence our customers and strategic partners to consider their e-waste practices, especially with a globally expanding remote workforce.
We are also partnering with Eagle Solar & Light to ensure that by 2022, our 10,000+ square foot Net Friends headquarters in Durham will be bolstered by grid-tied solar paneling technology and we aim to become 100% reliant on solar power for our HQ operations by the end of next year.
With numerous Net Friends customers in industries focused on environmental sustainability, we are always eager to learn more about emerging initiatives that we can support. We are proud to partner with technology vendors like Microsoft, Apple, and Palo Alto Networks, who are publicly committing to better sustainability practices. We invite conversations about how to grow our own practices and would love to hear about your efforts!