Dell and Carbon Neutrality

Following an announcement two years ago that global warming was a critical problem deserving of his own company’s focus, Dell CEO and Chair Michael Dell committed his firm to obtaining what conservationists call a “carbon-neutral” footprint.

Very few firms, in or outside the tech industry, have taken the various somewhat – complicated steps often required to achieve neutral carbon impact.

This last August, 2008, the company announced it had achieved this result ahead of schedule, and Michael Dell confirmed the achievement in a speech in September.

Since then, despite positive statements by those working as outside partners on the project, the company has actually come under fire for not doing more. The basic complaint seems to be: fine, your own company has done this, but until the entire supply chain (suppliers of parts) for each product is also doing it, you have nothing to boast about.

Where do these people come from?

I would like to personally congratulate Michael Dell and his company for, first, having the guts and vision to take a leadership position on the issue of becoming carbon – neutral as a firm; and, second, for committing the company publicly, thereby endorsing the value of this positioning; and then, most important, in following through, using a variety of techniques, from customers arranging for planting trees, to buying and investing in renewable energy sources, to achieve this goal.

Dell would appear to be the first computer company to have done this, although Apple has also been making strong strides in this direction. While this may feel like a competition, it isn’t – it is a race to maintain the climate of this planet, and for each company that “wins,” we all win.

For those weird media types who find an irresistible urge to criticize a process well-done, but perhaps not yet extended, I have a bit of unasked-for advice: why not help publicize what a great job Dell is doing in its own footprint, and then encourage the Dell keiretsu to follow Dell’s example?

It seems to me that there are no negatives here at all, only two steps in the right direction, both of them positive, that every firm will need to go through: first, make sure your own firm is carbon-neutral; and, second, encourage your supply chain to join you.

I talked to Michael Dell about this weird spin in the media during a call the other day, and he was typically low-key about the affair, but I would like to personally thank him and the company for taking steps not required by law, but in tune with good global common sense, to further the interests of the planetary community. I hope that every technology (and non-tech) company follows the same path, and achieves the same goal. Each company will be perceived, quite rightly, as a winner, and we will all win as a result.

Thank you, Michael, for showing all of us that this goal is meaningful, and achievable in a very short period of time.