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Transitioning to Net Zero for IT 

by Shoosmiths LLP

Published: November, 2021

Submission: November, 2021


We are very excited to be supporting the UN Global Compact Network UK’s ‘Transitioning to a Net Zero’ webinar series.

The webinar in the series, ‘Transitioning to Net Zero for the IT’ took place on Thursday, 16 September 2021 and featured guest speakers:

The key takeaway points are set out below along with the webinar recording:

  • The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is working on an economy-wide net zero standard (to be released later this year). Information on this, including their Pre-Launch Public Consultation, which is open now until 6th October, can be found here.
    • The SBTi has also published guidance for ICT companies in setting science-based targets.
  • The mobile industry is following a three-step process to reach net zero. These steps could also be followed by all companies within the IT sector in their transition to net zero:
    • Promote the disclosure of emissions.
    • Define the pathway to get to net zero.
    • Support the alignment of net zero targets to a net zero pathway.
  • Collaborative platforms are a useful way for IT organisations to advocate for policy and share best practices for transitioning to net zero.
    • Steven Moore (Head of Climate Action, the GSMA) highlighted the work the GSMA is doing with members of its Climate Action Taskforce around leadership, advocacy, best practice, and research.
    • Gabrielle Ginér (Head of Environmental Sustainability, BT) discussed how BT’s Electric Fleets Coalition is advocating for policy change regarding electric vehicles.
    • Mattie Yeta (Head of Sustainability, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)) spoke about the useful learnings which Defra have shared through the e-Sustainability Alliance about how the IT sector can best transition to net zero and reduce their emissions.
  • Working with supply chains is key to reducing IT sector emissions. Questionnaires and direct engagement are both useful ways to ensure suppliers are considering and reporting their emissions diligently. Implementing sustainable procurement practices and building net zero concepts into supplier contracts can also be useful in ensuring that suppliers are committed to reducing emissions.
  • E-waste is a challenge for the IT sector in reaching net zero. However, it should be noted that the reverse take-back rate is not always an accurate measure of the amount of e-waste which resides in landfill. It is important to reduce e-waste through promotion of circular economy concepts throughout the value chain. This can be done through:
    • Implementation of customer policies which encourage the return of old devices.
    • Government policies which decrease amounts of e-waste.
    • Supplier engagement to ensure that old devices are recyclable.
    • Supplier engagement to ensure that the lifespan of devices is maximised.
  • The lack of a standardised reporting methodology from data centres is also a challenge for the IT sector. Defra are currently conducting work in this area to help data centres reduce their emissions and report in a standardised way. It was noted that on-premise data centre emissions are easier to report than off-premise data centre emissions.

Resources referenced during the event:


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