Cloud Computing Could Cut Carbon Emissions by 50%

A study by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) states that large companies in the UK and France could cut their carbon emissions in half by 2020 by migrating two thirds of their data storage to the cloud. In the UK alone, for the 457 firms with revenues greater than $1 billion, this would mean an aggregate annual carbon reduction of 9.2 million metric tons. This is equivalent to the annual emissions from 4 million passenger cars.

The analysis follows an earlier (June) report from the CDP, Cloud Computing: The IT Solution for the 21st Century, based on research conducted by independent sustainable business analyst Verdantix.

According to the report, companies that adopt cloud computing can reduce energy consumption, lower carbon emissions and decrease capital expenditure on IT, at the same time as improving overall operational efficiency. The report lists further advantages of cloud computing:

  • avoiding costly up-front investments in IT infrastructure
  • improving time-to-market: “virtual” servers can be purchased and set up in minutes
  • allowing for greater flexibility: cloud computing means capacity is bought only when needed
  • reducing maintenance of excess capacity
  • improving automation
As businesses strive to decouple economic growth from emissions growth, the potential for cloud computing to reduce a corporation’s carbon footprint is hugely beneficial. Andrew Winston, an expert on sustainable business, and author of Green to Gold and Green Recovery, says “finding providers and partners that can take some of your energy-using operations to scale, and manage them in a shared capacity, is good for both business’s carbon footprint and its bottom line.”