Leading Canadian organizations commit to cut rising emissions from digital technologies

OTTAWA, Aug. 17, 2021 – Leading Canadian organizations have committed to help curb the environmental impact from surging internet and technology usage, which already creates more greenhouse gases than the aviation industry and is on track to make up 8 percent of emissions by 2025.1

For the first time, public and private-sector organizations in Canada have jointly committed to cutting emissions linked to their IT operations with the Sustainable IT Pledge. Signatories include some of the best-known names in corporate Canada, including Accenture, ATCO, Bell, Canadian Blood Services, Micro Focus, Microsoft Canada and Oracle, as well as innovative growing companies such as CloudOps and Rockport.

“Few of us are aware of the carbon emissions caused by the data centres and networks that our smartphones and laptops run on,” said Katie Gibson, VP of Strategy and Partnerships at CIO Strategy Council, the non-profit leading the pledge. “But energy demand from digital technologies is increasing six times faster than the rest of the economy due to the growth of remote working, streaming services and the widespread use of data-hungry artificial intelligence. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made clear last week, the climate crisis is a ‘code-red for humanity.’ Time is fast running out to act on emissions, and Canada’s leading public and private-sector organizations are stepping up to the plate.”

The signatories have pledged to:

  • Take steps to address emissions from their IT operations by, for instance: optimizing their systems to reduce data processing volumes; using cloud-based services where possible; and extending service life of devices by refurbishing existing assets instead of buying replacements
  • Set robust emissions targets for their IT operations and publicly disclose progress against them
  • Set rigorous sustainability standards for suppliers while supporting Canada’s cleantech industry
  • Promote the adoption of sustainable IT practices and consider areas where national standards for sustainable IT could help

“We are proud to add Microsoft Canada to the CIO Strategy Council Sustainable IT Pledge, adding to our continued leadership when it comes to driving down emissions in the sector,” said John Weigelt, National Technology Officer, Microsoft Canada. “Last year, Microsoft committed to be carbon negative by 2030 and, by 2050, to remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted since it was founded in 1975. We continue to work towards this goal and strive to help our customers achieve their own sustainability goals along with us.”

The pledge signatories are all members of the CIO Strategy Council, a non-profit that brings together Canada’s leading businesses and public-sector organizations to act on the challenges posed by the digital economy.

Neil Correa, Cyber Strategist at Micro Focus said, “The importance of us all taking action to protect the environment has never been greater, which is why Micro Focus is proud to sign the Sustainable IT Pledge, alongside our peers. We are committed to reducing our impact on the environment and to helping our customers and partners address their carbon footprint and adopt carbon friendly IT strategies. Through this pledge, the work of the CIO Strategy Council and our collective efforts, together we can play a part in helping to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.”

For the full list of companies that have joined the Sustainable IT Pledge and to read the pledge in full, visit ciostrategycouncil.com/sustainable

1. The Shift Project. Lean ICT: Towards Digital Sobriety. 2019.

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