The experience gained from reporting Cisco's carbon inventory for six years through The Carbon Disclosure Project has enabled the company to establish a robust baseline while improving its data collection.
After several years of familiarization with the reporting process, Cisco developed software to permit the collection of energy-use data to become a standard business process. Cisco was then in a position to develop a reduction goal. Per the WRI GHG Protocol and using the internal tracking software, Cisco’s Scope 1 and 2 GHG inventory is based on utility and other data from more than 90% of their leased and owned facilities. Cisco also reports Scope 3 emissions from business air travel using detailed, flight segment data obtained from their travel service provider.
To coordinate a comprehensive emissions calculation covering about 500 buildings in over 80 countries, Cisco engaged and trained over 100 people worldwide to feed data into their custom software. Providing strong management support for this effort is Cisco’s “EcoBoard.” The EcoBoard is a cross-functional, executive-level body responsible for Cisco's environmental vision and strategy, including climate change. The EcoBoard reports to Cisco’s operating committee and is jointly chaired at the VP and SVP level. Membership of the EcoBoard currently comprises fourteen, key, business units and operational organizations, including government affairs, engineering, manufacturing, facilities, marketing, finance, services, and IT. As a result of this collaboration across the business, the data collection and emissions calculation has become more comprehensive and more accurate each year.
As part of its base lining process, Cisco confirmed the major sources of emissions were purchased electricity and business air travel. In response, Cisco has created initiatives to leverage its own technology to improve energy efficiency and reduce power consumption in buildings, data centers, and labs, as well as to reduce employee business travel.
Rob Rolfsen, Director for Sustainable Development at Cisco, says: "The annual CDP survey provided the impetus to begin measuring and reporting our greenhouse gas emissions. We next began leveraging our CDP reporting in our annual CSR report. As we improved our CDP reporting, we gained the confidence to commit to a GHG reduction goal through EPA Climate Leaders. This goal is now driving the initiatives to actually reduce our emissions."
As part of the EPA Climate Leaders partnership, Cisco has set a goal to reduce GHG emissions from its worldwide operations by 25% by the end of 2012 based upon a calendar year 2007 baseline. As part of the Clinton Global Initiative, Cisco had previously set a goal to reduce emissions from air travel by 10% based upon a fiscal year 2006 baseline. Notably, Cisco's air travel emissions are included in the more comprehensive EPA Climate Leaders reduction goal. Establishing these goals has been an important step to focus attention and allocate the necessary resources to address the impact of GHG emissions on climate change.
Cisco views the process as a multi-year journey which began with the decision to start measuring emissions, enabling transparent and public reporting, which formed the basis for an absolute reduction goal. In the future, the company plans to strengthen its data collection by making the process more automated and scalable. Cisco believes that a climate-responsive policy needs to be adopted by every business process, function and employee in order to be successful.