Research finds tech companies underestimate their carbon footprint

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BERLIN (AP) – Big tech companies like SAP, IBM and Google are underreporting their greenhouse gas emissions at a time when the role of businesses in climate change is increasingly monitored, according to a published study Friday.

Research published in the journal Nature Communications has revealed inconsistencies in the way companies report their carbon footprint, a metric increasingly seen as important to investors.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Technical University of Munich, looked at so-called scope 3 emissions that account for a large part of companies’ carbon footprints, such as business travel, commuting of employees and how companies’ products are used.

Focusing on 56 tech companies, they found that on average, they did not disclose about half of their emissions.

Christian Stoll, one of the report’s authors, said some companies, such as Google’s parent company Alphabet, were found to be consistent in how they reported their carbon footprint, but excluded some emissions that should have been be counted.

Others, like IBM, had reported their carbon footprint differently depending on the audience and excluded emissions that should have been included.

Neither Google nor IBM immediately responded to requests for comment.

The authors have suggested ways in which companies can improve their emissions reporting.

Laura Draucker, senior director of corporate greenhouse gas emissions at non-profit commercial research firm Ceres, said she agreed with the Nature paper’s finding that disclosure of corporate emissions needs to be improved.

“However, we can’t wait for perfect data,” said Draucker, who was not involved in the study. “Companies can use estimates and scouting tools to identify climate risk hotspots along their value chain, and they can set goals and take action now to meet those goals, while still doing business. striving to improve data collection and quality. “

Ceres’ own research has shown that many of America’s largest companies are missing ambitious climate goals, she added.

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