Companies of all sizes are keen to reduce their carbon footprint and environmental impact. Migrating systems to the cloud is an attractive approach, but it carries the risk of shifting influence elsewhere.
Leah Goldfarb was recently appointed Environmental Impact Officer for enterprise PaaS provider Platform.sh. We spoke with her to learn more about the role and importance of environmental issues in the industry.
BN: Does your appointment as the PaaS industry’s first Environmental Impact Officer show that tech companies are taking the climate crisis seriously?
LH: In fact, I think many companies, including technology companies, are taking the climate crisis much more seriously than they were five years ago. Thankfully, global efforts to combat climate change are moving forward thanks to the Paris Agreement signed at the end of 2015. The main goal of the agreement is to prevent global temperature from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius (limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible during this century, above pre-industrial levels). . To date, the Paris Agreement has 194 signatories and is endorsed by many of the world’s biggest companies, including Apple, Google, Intel, Microsoft and Novartis Corporation. The 2°C target of the Paris Agreement could be achievable if all parties keep their commitments, which is great news, according to new findings. I’m not saying that “greenwashing” isn’t a problem. As for Google and Microsoft, both have publicly announced their commitment to 100% renewable energy, carbon neutrality and net zero, and I’m sure many others will follow suit.
BN: What is your role in Platform.sh and what do you want to accomplish?
LH: Prior to joining Platform.sh, he spent more than 20 years in environmental science and policy, including Senior Scientist in the Technical Support Unit of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group I. My joining his Platform.sh is the company’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and doing the same for its international customer base. The “impact” part of my title is what interested me the most. My goals include accelerating our commitment to sustainability. This translates into our commitment to providing our customers with responsible website scaling and fleet management. We take reducing our carbon footprint very seriously. This means actively tracking emissions and continuously optimizing operations for environmental impact. We also have a team researching ways to continue to innovate in this area.
BN: Do you think the environmental impact officer role will become more prevalent across the global tech industry?
LH: Yes, yes. We must address the climate crisis and other environmental issues such as biodiversity loss. It is in our common interest to do so. Whatever position a company creates, whether environmental impact officer or sustainability officer, this means that we all understand that we have a duty to reduce our carbon footprint. It’s a positive move that demonstrates the company’s commitment to becoming a sustainable business.
BN: Can you describe how the information technology sector contributes to increasing global carbon emissions?
LH: I don’t think there is widespread recognition that the ICT sector accounts for 4% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) (equivalent to aviation) and that its energy consumption is increasing. 2040. There is no doubt that the tech sector can do more to combat climate change by further reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Digitization was mentioned by the IPCC as one of the systematic ways to reduce greenhouse gases. Because cloud computing consolidates resources, it is typically an inherently more energy efficient technology than on-premises alternatives. Most of the attention in reducing the carbon footprint of cloud computing has focused on improving data center hardware, but now the focus is on the overall energy use of the cloud sector.
BN: Do you think companies are doing their part to fight climate change? If not, why?
LH: It can be difficult to quantify whether companies are playing a role. Do you think fossil fuel companies are doing their part?
Currently, one of the major barriers to making meaningful progress on the climate front is ‘greenwashing’. Some of what is happening in the corporate world is more marketing-led or brand-building than a true commitment to reducing our carbon footprint or creating and enforcing policies that prioritize those goals. I’m here. The true measure of a company’s commitment to sustainability is whether it sets goals and has a viable plan to reach those goals. For example, companies that are serious about making a positive impact on reducing their carbon footprint commit to reducing their Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by at least 50-80%. Scope 3 should also be calculated and every effort should be made to reduce it.
BN: What are some ways technology companies can reduce their carbon footprint?
LH: As I said earlier, going digital by moving to the cloud is a good start. In fact, one study found that “Microsoft’s cloud solution reduced energy usage and carbon emissions by 30-90% compared to installing applications on-premises.” Besides improving, there are several ways. Developers can also do their part. Improved code observability tools (such as BlackFire.io) that show which processes are using the most resources so developers can more easily identify bottlenecks and optimize their code to speed up their applications and reduce your carbon footprint as a result. The most resource-intensive option for deploying code is a private server maintained on-premises. Once the greener decision to deploy in the cloud is made, there are various options regarding the level of interoperability. These environments are not inherently resource intensive if the developer has the highest level of mutualization.
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