Exclusive Sustainability Video: Claire Thornewill, Cognizant

Addressing technology’s carbon footprint, Claire Thornewill, Digital Sustainability Lead at Cognizant Netcentric unpacks responsible digital transformation

Digital transformation is capable of unlocking some key insights using the abundance of data on weather, location, and other metrics. These days the words sustainability and technology go hand-in-hand, which makes it far more difficult to shed a light on the carbon footprint of technology itself.

However, for true carbon reduction, companies must consider who provides their technology, the energy they acquire, the efficiency of data centres, and many other factors. This makes the job of declaring net-zero emissions much more complex. 

Claire Thornewill, Digital Sustainability Lead at Cognizant Netcentric, sat down with Scott Birch, CCO of BizClik, at Sustainability LIVE London to discuss this crucial point and how organisations can work to reduce or eliminate their technology’s impact on the world. 

“If you consider the IT industry, it does produce 4% of global emissions. In the aviation industry, we're looking at 1.9% of global GHG emissions,” says Thornewill.

“So the IT industry does produce more, but that's broken down into multiple things. You're looking at software and you're looking at hardware. I predominantly look at software [...] quite a niche part of it—specifically websites—but software itself also produces carbon emissions because it sits in the data centres.” 

Carbon offsetting doesn’t mean net-zero emissions 

As explained by thornewill, there are a number of organisations that do claim to source 100% green energy to operate their businesses, however, there are still cases where carbon offsets are passed off as clean. 

“Technology [is so good]. We can use it for this and we can use it for that, but I think there is a dark side that a lot of people don't consider, for example, the data centres,” says Thornewill.

“It's only recently that in the city of Montevideo in Uruguay that they had a state of emergency because they didn't have drinking water for their citizens. At the same time, Google is about to set up a data centre there that uses up so much water.”

This comment goes to show that organisations must be strategic about their efforts to expand their digital infrastructure. In the case of the Google anecdote, by developing a facility that would reduce the company’s impact on the environment, this is negatively offset by the social implications of the water shortage, which will effectively undo the work from an overall environmental, social and governance (ESG) perspective. 

Watch on to catch the full story in the video and catch further on-demand videos via the Sustainability Magazine website. 

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For more insights into Sustainability - check out the latest edition of Sustainability Magazine and be sure to follow us on LinkedIn & Twitter

Other magazines that may be of interest - EV Magazine | Energy Digital

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Net Zero LIVE will be hosted live from the QEII Centre, London on the 6th and 7th of March, and streamed globally via our virtual event platform Brella. Net Zero LIVE London will feature four LIVE themes, incorporating Sustainability LIVE, EV LIVE, Scope 3 LIVE, and Energy LIVE to deliver a holistic conference and exhibition experience with opportunities to connect with like-minded peers and actively contribute to crafting a sustainable future. Following Net Zero LIVE, viewers can also sign up for Sustainability LIVE Dubai and Singapore. 

Sign up to the The Global Sustainability & ESG Awards 2024, coming to London on the 11th September 2024. 

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BizClik is a global provider of B2B digital media platforms that cover 'Executive Communities' for CEO's, CFO's, CMO's, Sustainability Leaders, Procurement & Supply Chain Leaders, Technology & AI Leaders, Cyber Leaders, FinTech & InsurTech Leaders as well as covering industries such as Manufacturing, Mining, Energy, EV, Construction, Healthcare + Food & Drink.

BizClik, based in London, Dubai & New York offers services such as Content Creation, Advertising & Sponsorship Solutions, Webinars & Events. 

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