Now that the U.S. has officially rejoined the Paris Agreement there’s going to be greater focus on sustainability as organizations are presented with a series of incentives to reduce carbon emissions. The European Union is at the forefront of those efforts as it gears up to enforce mandatory environment, social, and governance (ESG) disclosure obligations by Summer 2022.
Inevitably, IT leaders, as part of complying with those regulations, should expect to be required to assess the amount of carbon they are generating both from local data centers and via application workloads running in the cloud. Accenture, as part of a set of myNav Green Cloud Advisor consulting services, expects that sustainability requirements will soon push even more workloads into the cloud.
Research conducted by Accenture finds shifting workloads from on-premises data centers to the public cloud can reduce an organization’s energy usage by 65% and cut carbon emissions by more than 84%. Accenture estimates migrating existing private workloads to a public cloud could reduce global CO2 emissions by nearly 60 million tons annually, roughly the equivalent to taking 22 million gasoline-powered cars off the road.
Accenture has developed a set of proprietary algorithms to quantify the “greenness” of various cloud platforms that takes into account, for example, the carbon emissions goals of a cloud service provider, locations, energy sources and readiness to transition to clean energy sources. Accenture is also partnering with an applied research team at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to establish a scoring system and certification program for the carbon emissions generated by various cloud platforms. Accenture is also working with CMU on a new cloud training program to teach IT professionals how to enable organizations to achieve a balance of cloud innovation and green computing practices.
A separate virtual three-day online training course has also been created in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management that delves deeper into the role the cloud plays in enhancing speed to market, cost management, flexibility of operations, business resilience, and innovation capabilities.
Organizations of all sizes are already seeking to accumulate carbon credits, which permit organizations to generate one ton of carbon dioxide or equivalent gas. Organizations, such as the automobile manufacturer Tesla, are aggregating credits from individual projects that can be purchased by other automobile manufacturers.
As carbon credits become more valuable the pressure on IT teams to reduce carbon emissions will only increase, notes Kishore Durg, leader of the Accenture Cloud First Global Services. “This is another dimension,” he says.
Vendors such as VMware are already launching sustainability initiatives that favor business partners that enable organizations to achieve sustainability goals. The number of these initiatives in the months ahead will only increase as climate change regulations start to have more bite. It’s hard to say what percentage of workloads moving to the cloud will be the direct results of these regulations, but like it or not IT leaders should expect carbon emissions to be a much bigger factor in IT decisions in the months and years ahead.
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