Smokin' Mirrors: Sony & WWF in partnership to fight climate change
Sony has become one of the most ambitious corporations worldwide in
the fight to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by joining
the World Wildlife Fund's "Climate Savers" program. In a joint press
in Tokyo on Monday this week, Sony announced they will commit to
absolute target emission reductions in both their operations and
production by as much as 7 percent of its 2000 levels by 2010.
"Sony is the first Japanese company in consumer electronics to take
corporate responsibility this far," said Jennifer Morgan, Director of
WWF International's Climate Change Programme. "It intends to make the
best effort, in terms of energy efficiency, for the benefit of its
clients, its own business and the future of the planet."
In addition to the 7 percent target, Sony has made the unique
commitment to reduce the contribution their products make to global
warming, by increasing their energy efficiency . According to the
company's Senior Vice President, Naofumi Hara, the partnership is an
important strategy for the company's future. "In terms of energy
consumption, it's not only for environmental problems, but it's also a
kind of competitiveness. If you have energy efficient appliances, you
can be more competitive than [other producers]."
Sony's products produce approximately three times the annual CO2
emissions than the company's manufacturing and managerial sectors,
through their use of electricity. This makes the commitment in its
product line a very big step forward for both the electronics sector
and the fight against climate change. "Electricity is the largest
emitting sector globally today, causing 40 percent of the world's
emissions that damage the climate," said Ms Morgan.
Importantly, Sony supports the view that the world must stay below the
2 degrees C warming of global average temperature above pre-industrial
times. Currently, the globe has already reached an increased average
temperature of 0.7 degrees C. WWF believes that it is still possible to
remain below the 2 degrees mark if governments and business take
affirmative action to reduce GHG emissions.
Developed to encourage the idea that corporations can be both
environmentally responsible and economically competitive, the WWF's
Climate Savers programme aims to set corporations well ahead of their
competition by developing new strategies and products. "The programme
is about proving that you can grow economically and reduce your
emissions patterns," said Oliver Rapf, Senior Policy Officer for WWF's
Climate Change and Business section in the European office. "We
counter the old argument of the industry that absolute reductions mean
a limit to growth. That's simply not true, and all of the Climate
Savers companies have proved that."
Sony is now the twelfth company to sign up to a "cutting-edge" Climate
Savers partnership. Targets for each company, which also include
Johnson and Johnson, IBM, Polaroid and Nike, must be set at
demonstrably more ambitious levels than previously planned by the
company. "When WWF partners with a company, we always want to make
sure that we partner with a leader in that sector," said Mr Rapf. "So,
that of course means that we...have really ambitious partners." The
programme is designed to place the company in the role of leader in
emissions reductions in its particular sector.
In FY 2005, Sony produced 2,135 million tonnes of CO2 in its
manufacturing and other business sites: 235,000 of which was
from chemicals such as Perflourocarbons (PFCs) and Hydroflourocarbons
(HFCs), while the other 1.9 million tonnes were emitted during energy
consumption. Only 6,496 tonnes of CO2 were offset with renewable
energy. Under Climate Savers, Sony will increase energy efficiency in
all of its production facilities, switching from oil to other
renewable energies and natural gas, the latter of which emits far less
CO2 per energy unit than oil or coal. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is by far
the most troublesome of all the greenhouse gases, its sheer massive
volume within the earth's atmosphere due to the burning of oil, coal
and other fossil fuels. HFC's, however, are over 11,000 times more
powerful at heating the earth's atmosphere than CO2, and by targeting
these chemicals, Sony is making a big leap forward in the
environmental impact of electronics manufacturing.
The 7 percent absolute reduction in Sony's emissions will incorporate
all of its operations globally and, interestingly, all Climate Savers
programs are treated as separate to other economic incentives, such as
the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Carbon
Trading. While Sony is also investing heavily in the CDM programme, it
has taken on Climate Savers as a completely additional avenue of
reducing its carbon footprint on the earth. It is this serious level
of commitment in reducing emissions that has WWF confident of its new
"The reason why we keep on pushing [our partners] is because climate
change is so urgent. We cannot afford to lose time with non-solutions.
We need to promote solutions now and move them onto the market," said
While Sony is keeping mum about their new range of products at this
stage (we can say it will include their 'pulasuma televees') their
emergence on the market will undoubtedly be welcomed with much
anticipation by consumers, and trepidation by competitors.
Note: This story was originally published for the Japan Inc. JIN Newsletter on Tuesday 25 July.
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