VENDORiQ: First Steps in Standard Carbon Reporting by Major Tech Vendors

The Latest

1 March 2022. Microsoft recently launched Carbon Call with ClimateWorks Foundation and more than 20 other leading organisations in the private, philanthropic, scientific and non-governmental sectors to develop more reliable and interoperable carbon emissions accounting practices. The collaboration is expected to address and solve gaps in current global carbon accounting systems, with a focus on carbon removal and land sector, methane, and indirect emissions. 

Why it’s Important

There has been a noticeable growth in the number of hyperscale Cloud vendors publicising their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint and energy consumption levels. Such growth outnumbers the total of on-premise data centre services that are following the same move towards carbon-free energy sources and more sustainable ICT operations.

This reflects the industry’s answer to the immediate call for action on climate change and the economic advantages of hyperscale. However, global standards for sustainability reporting still vary widely, according to a study published by the International Federation of Accountants and the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. The lack of a robust set of sustainability-related reporting standards presupposes that any vendor may overstate its claims of adhering to a climate-first approach, further relegating corporate reporting across a range of environmental, social and governance (ESG) areas into suspicion.

But progress has been made since. In November, during the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation proposed the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) to bring the much needed transparency in reporting across different industries, enterprises and regions.

Microsoft’s adoption of an emerging global standard for reporting reflects the next stage of the trend towards ICT sustainability issues. By 2025, IBRS expects that not only all the hyperscale Cloud vendors will have adopted a standardised carbon report, but most of the top Fortune 500 companies will be following suit. Around this time, it is expected that public sector shared services will be put under greater scrutiny to do the same move towards carbon-free energy sources with a globally agreed set of standards.

Who’s impacted

  • Data centre managers
  • Corporate risk and policy directors
  • Sustainability managers

What’s Next?

Organisations must learn to start monitoring trends in sustainable computing, especially among the hyperscale Cloud vendors. As all organisations will soon be obliged to adhere to a consistent, harmonised and global set of sustainability reporting standards that will help define collective enterprise reporting and accountability, be prepared for boards to request standardised ICT sustainability reporting. This will enhance their commitment to actively participating in collecting and reporting sustainability information and the credibility of their report. 

Finally, organisations must consider what solutions may be needed to integrate ESG in creating value for the organisation over the long term, rather than attempting to build such capabilities in-house with existing analytics platforms. 

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. VENDORiQ: Cloud Vendors will Push New Wave of Sustainable ICT Strategies
  2. VENDORiQ: Oracle Announces Innovation Lab During COP26 Summit

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