I wasn’t surprised the article in the WSJ over the holidays which was pretty hard on Dell for its “carbon neutral” claim. There’s certainly plenty of room for skepticism. There’s no formal definition of “carbon neutral”, and in the case of a company like Dell (or Sun or others) there’s large parts of the environmental impact that fall outside the formal company boundary (e.g. supply chain, product energy usage by customers). Furthermore, as the article points out, the questions of “additionality” and whether the offset dollars are really changing behavior are not clear cut (and probably never will be, imho). Putting this all together, the skepticism wasn’t a surprise.
Here’s a couple of other thoughts related to the article:
- I know a number of the folks working on sustainability at Dell, and I know they’ve got some really good programs underway there. Personally I feel like their carbon neutrality claims have actually detracted from the communicating the good work they’re doing.
- At Sun, our position has not changed. We are not attempting to be carbon neutral, nor are we dealing in offsets or RECs. We are continuing to make major investments to lower our environmental impact, both direct as well as in our supply chain and products. We have achieved over 20% reduction since 2002, and have projects underway to take that down much further.
- Remember, Dell spent a bunch of money to be able to claim to be carbon neutral. How much more headway could they have made in their other programs if they’d applied that same money?