Fight Climate Change with the Cloud on Your Side


The Covid-19 pandemic is a cruel reminder that even in the 21st century, our world is just as vulnerable to crisis as it was in the early days of human civilization. There’s no crisis more serious than climate change. Anant Adya, executive vice president at Infosys Cobalt, says that if we hope to arrest the progress of environmental disasters, such as unprecedented heat waves, flash floods, tsunamis and forest fires, we need to take aggressive measures to decarbonize. Starting yesterday. 

Fighting climate change is a collective battle of countries, governments, industries, institutions and individuals. Just consider the impact on business alone. Climate change and environmental hazards, such as deforestation, will cost enterprises revenues amounting to nearly US$ 1.3 trillionOpens a new window by 2026.

Organizations are therefore adopting various sustainability measures to reduce non-renewable energy consumption, environmental pollution and waste generation. Key to that endeavor is the adoption of technology-driven sustainability solutions. This article focuses on how one particular technology, namely the cloud, enables enterprises to meet their ESG goals. 

Shrink the Energy Footprint on the Cloud

Shifting workloads from their own data centers to public cloud can dramatically reduce the energy consumed by enterprises. Firstly, workload migration is done after rationalizing and optimizing the current footpring. Second, the cloud model makes efficient use of resources by sharing them across clients, unlike private data centers which are built for a certain capacity that many times goes unutilized.

In addition to that, the Cloud providers have energy-efficient data centers that use renewable energy sources, which contributes to carbon neutrality in a big way. To say it in numbers, a cloud server serves 100 times the workload that a private server of the same capacity would normally handle. What’s more, hyperscalers, who are also trying to be more sustainable than they already are, are continuously striving to make their clouds even greener. Cumulatively, these measures are enabling client enterprises to reduce their IT carbon footprint by as much as 88 percent, according to one study. 

Simplify ESG Reporting 

While enterprises know the importance of sustainability, many are challenged by the complexity and contradictions of ESG reporting, not to mention the difficulty of gathering financial and non-financial data of the required quality from internal and external sources. Cloud can really help their case by standardizing data and automating reporting processes. For example, a hyperscaler and software giant have a cloud-based SaaS offering for reporting carbon emissions and tracking progress against carbon goals. 

There is an encouraging trend of the world’s leading organizations relying on cloud services for enabling and assessing their ESG initiatives and also for reporting purposes. In a 2021 surveyOpens a new window of 500+ U.S. executives working in Fortune 1000 companies, 34 percent said their company was already using the cloud for ESG reporting, while 26 percent said they had plans yet to be implemented. 

See More: Why Every C-suite Leader Must Prioritize Cloud Security, Moving Beyond the CISO

Reduce Emissions and E-waste Faster 

Instead of making disparate efforts to reduce their emissions, enterprises can migrate to the cloud to meet carbon goals faster. What’s more, they can continue to make incremental improvements using the insights of a sustainability dashboard offered by hyperscalers, indicating the emissions associated with their cloud usage. 

The cloud can kill two birds with one stone to reduce not only energy consumption but also electronic waste. Some providers of cloud-based infrastructure and applications-as-a-service are helping their clients to retire their old servers and other equipment in a sustainable manner. A number of providers, including Amazon, Cisco, Dell and Google, are members of the Circular Electronics PartnershipOpens a new window (CEP), a sustainability forum for driving circularity in electronics. One of the aims of the CEP is to promote the reuse and recycling of technology infrastructure. 

Derive and Act upon Green Insights

The right data and analytics is important for making the right sustainability decisions. Cloud is imperative for technologies such as the Internet of Things, machine learning, and edge computing, which enable enterprises to track ESG parameters such as energy and water consumption, usage of other natural resources, pollution and waste creation, etc. Cloud provides the required compute, storage and agility to these technologies to gather, ingest and process massive volumes of structured and unstructured data into insights that can drive sustainable actions. 

An extremely important use case here is the development of green buildings and smart spaces. Buildings and built-up spaces are estimated to cause as much as 40 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.  But by using the cloud along with other digital technologies, the construction industry can collect data, such as ambient conditions, occupancy, and equipment signals, and take informed action to optimize office and retail spaces for sustainability.

Bring Sustainability to Product Design and Development 

One sector that is already benefiting hugely from the cloud is manufacturing. Today, many progressive manufacturers are running advanced analytics on the cloud to design sustainable products and processes. A research study commissioned by Infosys found that the second most important reason for cloud adoption by discrete manufacturers in the wake of the pandemic was to keep new product development going.

For example, automobile companies are shifting new product development activities from energy-guzzling data centers to energy-efficient public clouds. Toyota has created virtual desktop infrastructure on the cloud, allowing teams to collaborate remotely while cutting back on the number of workstations. 

Cloud for a Sustainable Future

With the 2030 deadline looming, the world needs to ramp up actions to stop climate change. Organizations have a big responsibility towards achieving our common sustainability goals. Besides adopting environmentally-conscious policies and practices, enterprises can leverage digital technologies to advance their ESG goals. Of the various technological solutions, the cloud is the most important enabler of a transition to sustainability. 

How are you leveraging the cloud to reduce your carbon footprint? Share with us on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedInOpens a new window .


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