Published On: Fri, Nov 6th, 2020

The Impact of the Green New Deal on Big Tech

For years, billion-dollar tech companies like Apple and Google have made impressive efforts to reduce their carbon footprints. With Apple claiming that its facilities are powered by renewable energy and Google purchasing the most renewable energy around the world, many companies have followed suit and taken action to preserve what’s left of the planet. Tech companies have led the way in sustainability when compared to alternate industry peers. However, with the promotion of the Green New Deal platform, the tech industry still has a long way to go to reduce the emissions gap.

 Green New Deal platformNot Enough Change

From the Center for Climate Integrity comes complaints that the big tech corporations are putting forth a bare minimum effort while getting the highest praises for their environmental records. For realists, what the company does to improve its production practices doesn’t negate the damage to the environment that comes from their products.  When U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and fellow Senator Ed Markey put forth the Green New Deal Resolution, the country was introduced to a plan to bring the U.S. a net carbon zero state by 2030. Since the big five tech companies of Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple command a hefty corner of the economy, it is these companies that will have to face the biggest changes.

The hardware, networks, products, and internet infrastructure of these companies affect nearly every individual and industry, making it that much harder to conceptualize just what kind of change can be forthcoming. While efforts like ecoATM have an impact on the environment, the principals behind these operations need to expand into other sectors and tech companies for a larger impact? What is ecoATM? It is a company that pays individuals to recycle their old electronics, specifically mobile or portable devices. Simply searching for “ecoATMs near me” will bring up numerous sites where this exchange can take place. This idea can and should be implemented in big tech companies of all electronics.

The Big Footprint

As researchers note, the tech industry’s biggest barrier to becoming fully sustainable is its energy consumption. Electricity is a key emission for many different companies, but big tech and the digital sector consume significantly larger amounts than the other industries. Though there have been efforts in some companies to turn toward renewable energy sources, it is estimated the usage is still marginal compared to total consumption. Even as the digital industry is the world’s largest buyer of renewable energy, data shows that only 50 terawatt-hours of the more than 835 used relied on renewable sources.

Apple is the exception to the rule, but it still faces an uphill battle getting its suppliers and all points along the distribution chain to change to renewable consumption as well. This sets up the company to fair well under the GND which promotes exchange and collaboration to foster improved sustainability along supply chains. However, there are still far fewer companies and practices dotting the tech landscape that are willing to make these changes than those who are even willing to consider it.

The Conversation

For companies being recognized for the low or zero-emissions impact, there is a social responsibility to spread the information or transforming tech to other companies and fight climate change as a more collective whole. Education and information can lead to having an open and consistent dialogue among tech industry leaders on how to move from corporate sustainability to consumer-level decisions. The devices produced by these companies could become forces for change in the e-commerce sector, highlighting companies or products that are carbon neutral or eco-friendly.

Big Tech has a strong grasp on the economy and the U.S. consumer. As the nation considers the impact of the GND on transportation, energy production, and manufacturing, the digital industry could have a lot to worry about as well.