IBM plans to produce net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2030

The company's plan involves a focus on actually reducing emissions before they occur.

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IBM’s operations won’t produce greenhouse emissions by the end of the decade. That’s the goal of the company’s latest climate pledge, in which, unlike some other companies, it emphasized the importance of preventing emissions before they occur. By 2025, IBM says it will reduce its greenhouse emissions by 65 percent compared to its output in 2010. “What's most important in the fight against climate change is to actually reduce emissions,” IBM said. “The company's net-zero goal is also accompanied by a specific, numerical target for residual emissions that are likely to remain after IBM has first done all it can across its operations to reduce.”

When it comes to carbon capture tools, IBM said it would use them to remove greenhouse gases in amounts that either equal or exceed its residual emissions. Additionally, it will source 65 percent of the electricity it consumes from renewables by 2025 and 90 percent by the end of the decade.

"The climate crisis is one of the most pressing issues of our time,” said IBM Chairman and CEO Arvind Krishna. “IBM's net-zero pledge is a bold step forward that strengthens our long-standing climate leadership and positions our company years ahead of the targets set out in the Paris Climate Agreement."

Those goals put IBM ahead of some of its peers. Under the climate pledge Jeff Bezos announced in 2019, Amazon said it would produce net-zero emissions by 2040. Microsoft, like IBM, plans to be carbon negative by 2030. Technically, the company has produced net-zero emissions since 2012. However, it’s done so through carbon offsets like reforestation projects, not the capture technologies it said it would help create with its $1 billion innovation fund.

But as with most companies, there’s still more IBM could do to reduce its carbon footprint. As The Verge points out, indirect emissions generated by those using IBM products make up a significant portion of the company’s carbon footprint, and that’s something the plan it announced today doesn’t address directly.