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Growing demand for Sustainable IT
despite a lack of maturity

Philippe Roques
15 Nov 2022

Despite its recent popularity, sustainability continues to be an exclusive domain of SMEs.

A plethora of jargons like carbon-neutral, net-zero, GWP, CO2ee etc often create an entry barrier which even confuse senior business leaders. But the message from COP27 is loud and clear, it is time for implementation and we all need to play our parts in reducing global CO2e emissions. But you cannot transform what you don’t understand or cannot measure. Like the ‘e’ after CO2 stands for “equivalent” which refer to other Green House Gases responsible for global warming.

Instead of getting overwhelmed with jargons, it’s now time for IT leaders to demystify sustainability and act decisively on this critical issue. I would recommend not to see it as an emerging topic but as embedded into everyday actions- from baking a cake to commuting to the office. A practical way to start learning about global warming is by baselining individual CO2e emissions leveraging any online carbon calculator. See how this contributes to the overall ambition of Paris Agreement [1]. According to Emissions Gap Report[2], per capita CO2e emissions should be around 2tonnes per year to contain global warming within 1.5degree Celsius by 2050, that is roughly one round trip between Paris and New York by flight.

Similarly, IT leaders must see sustainable IT as embedded into their existing IT ecosystem and begin their transformation journey with an accurate baseline of their enterprise IT carbon footprint.

Demystifying three common myths around sustainable IT

But before embarking on their sustainable IT transformation journey, IT leaders must be careful to avoid common myths surrounding this topic. One common myth is measuring the CO2e emissions of IT only during its use or run phase, while manufacturing also has a significant carbon footprint. Since user devices, networking, and data center equipment constitute a large share of enterprise IT’s carbon footprint, any sustainable IT transformation strategy will need to consider the impact of manufacturing too. And to close the loop it is important to have an end-of-life strategy for all IT devices and equipment. Global IT leaders must acknowledge that there could be a wide variance in CO2e emissions depending on many factors like location etc and you cannot fit one sustainability strategy to all.

A second common myth is to treat cloud as a panacea for all of IT’s CO2e emissions. Although moving applications to the cloud has a potential to reduce IT’s carbon footprint, it also has a scope 3 impact based on the hyperscaler’s operational carbon footprint like electricity. Electricity generation needs energy that varies across countries and impacts its CO2e emissions commonly referred to as carbon intensity[1]. Hence, a simple move to cloud when the data center is in a country with higher carbon intensity might increase the CO2e emissions. There is no doubt that hyperscalers have been trying to optimize their carbon footprint and reporting, but today we still lack a clear view of carbon footprint on public cloud and especially the manufacturing CO2e emissions of servers etc. As Gartner® says, “Sustainability metrics and workload placement tools are still immature and not always transparent, making it difficult for organizations to fully and accurately assess true sustainability impacts of their cloud usage today”[2].

Also while discussing cloud in the context of sustainability, I would advise more caution as it can have an infinite effect. I have seen many clients add much more into their cloud than they need, which in turn can increase the total CO2e emissions even though the emissions per workload on cloud may be lower. Hence, IT leaders should always have sobriety as a guiding principle to shape their sustainable IT strategy and transformation roadmap.

A third myth I come across often is limiting ecodesign to only code optimization. In reality it also includes user devices, infrastructure, network on which the software is running and foremost it is about efficiently addressing the business needs.

Sustainability is more than climate change

I certainly believe that we need to do all we can to reduce CO2e emissions to the minimum before looking at offsetting, and also ensure compliance with regulations on sustainability reporting. But let’s also be aware that sustainability is a broader topic covering ecological degradation and depletion of abiotic resources like precious metals. It is important for any long-term sustainable IT vision to also consider its impact on other areas of sustainability beyond CO2e emissions.

We see a strong demand for sustainable IT!

We see a clear urgency in the market to act on this. Most clients want us to help them build awareness on this topic internally, baseline their IT carbon footprint, and set-up governance to track their CO2e emissions.  Industries where IT is a major contributor to their CO2e emissions are ahead in the curve compared to others, but even here sustainable IT is sometimes seen as a quick win while they transform their core business model. While cost was and continues to be a priority for CIOs, going forward we might see sustainability metrics like units of electricity also being used to measure the sustainability ROI from IT transformations. Would you agree? I would love to hear how you demystify sustainability myths for your teams and build a vision for your sustainable IT transformation.

For more than 11years I am leading Capgemini’s unique eAPM capability around the key principle of helping our clients make fact-based decisions on their IT transformation journey. Most recently, we launched its sustainable IT module leveraging our proprietary eAPM studio powered by an AI engine. Using this we can model a 360° view of enterprise IT’s carbon footprint at an application level and identify key emission hotspots. With our unique benchmarks we are then able to recommend actionable levers that can accelerate CO2e emissions reduction. We are on a continuous innovation journey in this space along with our clients who are keen to accelerate their sustainable IT transformation journey. Would you like to embark on this journey with us? I would like to learn more about your sustainable IT plans. Please reach me at or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Visit our website to learn more about how we help our clients’ sustainable IT journey with eAPM. I would like to thank my colleagues Claire Egu who leads our sustainable IT module & our head of marketing Joy Bhattacharjee for their valuable contributions to this article.

® Gartner Press Release, Gartner Predicts Hyperscalers’ Carbon Emissions Will Drive Cloud Purchase Decisions by 2025, January 24, 2022


Philippe Roques

Expert in SVP Global Offer Lead