Sean Sadler

Sean Sadler

Senior Cloud & Digital Transformation Consultant

From extreme temperatures and threats to wildlife, to loss of food sources and flooding, the many impacts of climate change are being felt across the world. A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)compared the difference between 1.5°C and 2°C of global warming, highlighting the consequential impact on the planet. The alarming thing is, unless we reduce our emissions rapidly, by the end of this century warming could potentially reach more than 4°C.

Sustainability initiatives and the journey towards net zero have therefore become increasingly important features of any responsible organisation’s portfolio. This is not only due to government targets and legislation making it mandatory to report on emissions, but also in terms of attracting new employees and customers. With digital transformation another key theme for every modern organisation, this is the ideal opportunity to reevaluate the important role technology must play in your sustainability journey.


Responsible business in the face of rapid climate change

Average global temperatures have risen by more than 1°C since the 1850s, with 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 the hottest years on record2. It is clear our planet has been warming since the Industrial Revolution, and it is more important than ever that we act.

Met Office Global Average Temperature Anomoly Graph
Figure 1 - Met Office


 Stakeholders want to see evidence that you are taking sustainability seriously. Not just ticking the boxes to comply with specific standards, but fully embracing your responsibility to create positive economic, social and environmental impact. Whilst this may cause some additional expense and in some cases, majorly impact how your organisation operates, your organisation will also reap the benefits, including:

  • The opportunity to rethink your business model (this may be overdue anyway)
  • Cost savings over time
  • Adopting the latest technologies to increase your agility and speed to market
  • Improving the wellbeing of your employees, citizens and customers.


Measuring and reporting your greenhouse gas emissions

There are many useful resources available to help you measure, report and ultimately reduce your organisation’s carbon footprint. Here are some recommendations:

  • Government guidance on measuring and reporting your carbon emissions3
  • PAS 2060:2014 specification for the demonstration of carbon neutrality - this provides a framework to help you measure, reduce and offset your impact on our climate4
  • ICT sector guidance – built on the GHG Protocol product lifecycle accounting and reporting standard, this focuses on how to report GHG emissions for data centres and cloud services5


The role of technology

Technology has a major part to play in resolving climate change and enabling organisations to meet net zero targets. Whilst technology and digital innovations present huge opportunities to improve the health and wellbeing of people and places, we need to remain mindful of the negative impacts of rapid digitalisation, and the consequential rising global demand for hardware and data.

In fact, 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years, and worryingly this growth is set to continue exponentially.

Sustainability consultants in discussion over a document and model of wind turbines

For example, Cristiano Ronaldo has the world’s largest Instagram following of over 400 million people; it is estimated that the energy required to process the data for all followers to view a photograph he posts is actually the equivalent of that required by a UK household over a 10-year period.

The carbon impact of managing our hunger for data will therefore soon exceed traditional carbon intensive industries such as global air travel. Efficient and effective digital operations, the circularity of hardware and responsible data stewardship are thus essential considerations moving forward.


IT leaders must lead the way

Sustainability therefore provides IT leaders with a unique opportunity to demonstrate increasing value to an organisation. It is important that IT leaders enable their businesses/organisations with the right tools to transition effectively towards net zero, and they must also take responsibility for reviewing their own carbon footprints and incorporating reduction measures into IT strategies.

It is therefore essential that you act fast for the benefit of your planet, citizens, employees and customers. But we understand it is difficult to know where to begin. If you are looking to approach all things “digital” in a more responsible, sustainable way, CGI is here to help.

You can learn more about our responsible approach to helping clients’ digital transformation journeys in our Digital Backbone - Sustainability PoV. Or if your organisation wants to look beyond technology alone to create positive economic, social and environmental impact, our Sustainability and Climate Change Advisory experts have the knowledge and experience to help.


Read the next blog in my Sustainability and Technology series:

Three technologies to accelerate your sustainability journey


Finally, please scroll to the footer of our webpages and subscribe to receive our new blog notifications. If the topic of sustainable business has piqued your interest, this will help you keep an eye out for my next post where I will explore some specific digital sustainability methods you might want to consider.


About this author

Sean Sadler

Sean Sadler

Senior Cloud & Digital Transformation Consultant

With more than 22 years’ experience of implementing IT solutions, Sean is passionate about developing strategies that meet businesses’/customers’ goals and objectives. He has an accomplished record of delivering digital transformation and complex change projects, helping to develop, lead and mentor high performing teams that ...