Google, Amazon, Microsoft, the Cloud - and cutting carbon

By Helen Adams
Ashish Arora, Vice President at HCL Technologies, discusses working with big tech companies and unlocking the true green capabilities of cloud computing

The problems posed by climate change simply cannot be overlooked any longer, with carbon dioxide emissions being the biggest cause for rising temperatures around the world. 

The UK has been particularly vocal in raising the alarm, and will use the UN’s 2021 COP26 climate change conference, hosted in Glasgow, to urge economies to drive towards net zero emissions by 2030, in line with the Paris Agreement and the UN’s own Framework Convention on Climate Change.

It’s not just governments who have been taking responsibility over climate change – businesses have been looking to change their behaviour as well. 

In particular, many have been coming to terms with the environmental impact their everyday IT activities are having, for example:

  • A single Google search uses the same amount of electricity as it takes to run a lightbulb for 17 seconds. 
  • The five billion views of music video Despacito (2018), meant that it had driven the consumption of the typical amount of energy used by 40,000 US homes a year.  


Cloud computing can cut carbon footprints

In very simple terms, if businesses switch their IT systems from on-premise to cloud computing, it’s the equivalent of using a car pool. 

Having on-premise servers requires hardware, facilities and cooling units. If businesses can join a “car pool” with big cloud service providers like Amazon, Microsoft and Google, businesses will be in line to reduce costs, with cloud-native applications consuming less infrastructure and energy per user. 

Businesses will also be better-equipped to support remote workers, further reducing carbon emissions involved in creating and maintaining large office spaces. 


Big tech is leading the charge

  • Google claims to be the first organisation of its size to operate with 100% renewable energy, with its data centers run on wind farms and solar panels
  • Microsoft has set the target of becoming carbon negative by 2030 and is also investing in carbon reduction and removal technologies
  • Amazon has also pledged to reach net zero carbon by 2040


Using green data centers to reduce carbon footprints

IT decision-makers everywhere have a responsibility to check their suppliers are taking energy efficient steps, and setting up KPIs that drive them to further reduce their emissions. Just because a business no longer has physical servers and data centers, it can’t take an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach: when using the cloud, all of us should take responsibility to ensure our carbon footprint is as small as possible.



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