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Tech giants support regular reporting requirement on climate issues

Tech giants support regular reporting requirement on climate issues
Tech giants support regular reporting requirement on climate issues

Pressure on organisations to show their climate credentials has grown quickly in recent years

A group of seven big tech firms, including Amazon, Facebook and Google, has urged the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require businesses and public organisations to regularly report on climate-related issues.

In a letter [pdf] sent to SEC chair Gary Gensler on Friday, the group detailed several principles they believe should be incorporated into rules around climate disclosures.

They said that the SEC should press businesses to report carbon emissions and to utilise existing frameworks as well as recognised 'global standards for required metrics, such as the World Resources Institute GHG Protocol.'

'We believe that climate disclosures are critical to ensure that companies follow through on stated climate commitments and to track collective progress towards addressing global warming and building a prosperous, resilient zero-carbon economy,' the firms wrote in the letter. They added that they were committed to taking steps within their own operations, including supply chain, products, technology and public engagement.

The group urged the SEC to allow businesses to disclose climate-related issues outside of annual, quarterly and other filings, and to ensure that such disclosures are consistent and comparable to one another.

Intel, Salesforce, eBay and Autodesk were the other companies that signed that letter, along with Facebook, Amazon and Google.

The companies said that they were collectively purchasing 21 gigawatts of clean energy, and each of them aimed to procure 100 per cent green renewable energy in the future.

The letter's signatories welcomed the SEC's leadership on climate action, noting they were 'encouraged by the Commission's open and transparent process in proactively seeking early input from a broad community of participants in the capital markets.'

In a separate letter to the SEC, Microsoft also urged the agency to adopt rules to mandate material disclosures related to climate impact.

Both letters come following an SEC request for public input from investors, registrants, and other market participants on climate change disclosures.

'Since 2010, investor demand for, and company disclosure of information about, climate change risks, impacts, and opportunities has grown dramatically,' the SEC said at the time.

'Consequently, questions arise about whether climate change disclosures adequately inform investors about known material risks, uncertainties, impacts, and opportunities, and whether greater consistency could be achieved.'

In recent years, many tech firms have joined hands and signed key declarations to combat climate change. Staff have also pressed their employers to do better on the issue.

Earlier this month, CyrusOne announced that all its data centre facilities in Europe, which includes sites in Amsterdam, Dublin, Frankfurt and London, are running on 100 per cent renewable energy, sourced from local suppliers.

The achievement comes nine years ahead of the 2030 target outlined in the Climate Neutral Data Center Pact, which was co-founded by CyrusOne earlier this year.

The self-regulatory pact includes 25 companies and 17 associations and aims to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050.  It also supports both the European Green Deal (signed in 2020) and European Data Strategy.

Last month, Google revealed a plan to shift compute tasks between data centres for better use of green energy. The company said it would use its 'Carbon-Intelligent Computing Platform' to shift 'movable' compute workloads to different data centres, based on the availability of renewable energy.

Ross Koningstein, co-founder of Google's Carbon-Intelligent Computing project, said the company is working on a plan to completely decarbonise its electricity use by 2030.

Amazon also pledged to be 100 per cent powered by renewable energy by 2025 in 2019, and to become carbon neutral by 2040.