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Salesforce Slashes Emissions to Zero 33 Years Ahead of Schedule

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U.S. cloud computing giant Salesforce announced two major sustainability milestones on Thursday.


The San Francisco-based company has achieved net-zero greenhouse gas emissions—fulfilling a commitment it made in 2015—and is now providing a carbon-neutral cloud for customers.

"The cloud runs on electricity, which today relies predominantly on fossil fuels, a major source of global emissions," Salesforce sustainability director Patrick Flynn wrote in a blog post. "As a cloud leader, we have a responsibility to help combat the adverse effects of climate change."

"Climate change impacts everyone—every individual, company, city and nation," Flynn wrote. "And its effects are compounded in the world's poorest regions, amplifying global inequality. Equality is a core value at Salesforce and that's why we're committed to harnessing our culture of innovation to fight climate change and drive toward equality for all."

Salesforce initially set its goal of hitting net-zero by 2050, meaning as of today the company is 33 years ahead of schedule, Cleantechnica noted.

The firm achieved this goal through two 12-year renewable energy agreements with wind farms in Texas and West Virginia, and through the purchase of "high-quality carbon offset projects."

Two of the projects are:

  • Proyecto Mirador: Replaces open, wood-burning cookstoves in Honduras with a more efficient alternative, decreasing emissions and deforestation while improving human health through better indoor air quality. Each cookstove reduces CO2 emissions by nearly 15 metric tons over its five-year life.
  • India Solar Water Heating: Provides households, small- and medium-sized businesses and institutions with a cleaner and more reliable hot water supply fueled by renewable energy rather than carbon-intensive sources.

In a blog post regarding today's announcement, Salesforce CFO Mark Hawkins explained how companies can save a lot of money by reducing emissions:

"According to a 2013 study conducted by the World Wildlife Fund and the Carbon Disclosure Project, U.S. companies, excluding utilities, could save up to $190 billion by 2020 just by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by an average of three percent per year.

"Not only do these efforts positively impact the environment, they positively impact our bottom line. When we improve the efficiency of a data center, it costs less for us to operate that facility. For example, driving more efficient use of electricity in our data centers lowers our utility bills."

According to Hawkins, the company is exploring other ways to reduce carbon usage, such as reporting employee travel volume and making design changes to their offices.

For instance, the firm recently awarded a contract to a local company to supply furniture for the new Salesforce Tower in Indianapolis, he said.

"Not only did the company meet our sustainability standards for the materials it used, but by going local, we avoided the environmental impact and the fees associated with shipping and scheduling deliveries with a non-local supplier," Hawkins wrote.

A number of Silicon Valley companies are stepping up to the plate to combat climate change in the face of a presidential administration seemingly hostile towards environmental protections.

Last month, Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft filed an amicus brief to support Obama-era clean energy regulations that President Donald Trump is trying to undo.

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