Sustainable ITTechnologies to reduce carbon footprints also require power. How can corporations tap big ‘cloudy’ ideas to achieve zero emissions much faster?

The urgency of our planet’s environmental predicament has long been clear, and calls to action are being amplified as more citizens, companies, and governments start to accept the science and act on sustainability initiatives that actually make a difference.

A study by the BBC had asserted that consumers in the Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) region were taking steps towards a sustainable future by preferring companies that provide sustainable products and services. This is one way for all of us to make a difference, and in most cases is a relatively easy ask. 

Addressing climate change requires rapid innovation globally across government and industries—from startups to multinational corporations. As cloud computing adoption expands and data use grows exponentially, information technology needs to be as sustainable as possible. Fortunately, we can achieve real progress right now with the Cloud.

Embracing sustainability wholesale

While we can all make small adjustments to help the cause, it is the conglomerates that need to lead the charge by being bold and ambitious in their approach to climate change.

Sustainability must become a key factor in every business decision for companies that have not already fully embraced the urgency of being kinder to our planet. By embedding sustainability into the company culture, businesses can more easily achieve their sustainability goals, make going green a lot simpler, and even boost their bottom line. 

Businesses can also tap into employees’ passion for sustainability and empower them to do more in tackling climate change issues, such as engaging with their local communities to do more; spreading awareness by delivering environmental education through onsite and virtual events; and creating a community for sharing best practices across teams. 

Powering decarbonization via the Cloud

Some countries in APJ are taking sustainability to heart. Singapore has effectively reduced the country’s annual emissions to the tune of 23,500 households’ electricity use with cloud technology, which is in turn powered by data centers.

As data center operators continuously improve their carbon credentials, plans are being made in the race to carbon neutrality for IT infrastructure. This includes the following ‘sustainable IT’ initiatives:

  • Ensuring that data center energy is 100% renewable, and using hydrogen fuel cells to power backups. When this happens, moving to the cloud could see even greater reductions in emissions
  • Making sure operators use every tool they have to reduce their carbon footprint, by operating equipment at high utilization rates, and switching to extremely power efficient equipment
  • Improving data center sustainability in the area of cooling through optimized water usage. In India, reclaimed or recycled water (instead of drinking water) has been used in multiple regions, in concert with close monitoring of temperature changes. The reclaimed water—obtained through rainwater harvesting, water filtration plants, and household water connections, also benefits the rural residents 
  • Using more-efficient cooling methods and equipment recycling targets to make cloud computing more sustainable globally. LNG cooling is also a target, with Singapore planning to reuse cold energy from the LNG re-gasification process at its LNG terminal to cool local data centers, reducing the carbon footprint of these centers by up to 20%
  • Choosing to run IT infrastructure via cloud is not just more sustainable, it makes financial sense as it can reduce infrastructure and compute costs, and even create jobs and increase gross value added (GVA) per hectare of land use. Going “cloud first” is gaining momentum across our region. The cloud has a central role to play in digital transformation and the acceleration of innovation when it comes to sustainability, and cloud-first policies can help organizations meet their decarbonization goals. 

So far, the governments of Japan and Singapore have adopted cloud-first policies, as have companies across APJ such as those in Hong Kong.

In Australia, a startup providing online design services was the first in the country to sign The Climate Pledge, pledging to become net-zero carbon by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. Such a “Think Big” idea is what more firms globally need to embrace in order to alter Earth’s trajectory away from certain disaster: all of us must act together in every way we can.