S. Gopalakrishnan (Kris) is also the chairman of the Business Action for Sustainable Development 2012 (BASD), a coalition of international business groups committed to sustainable development. In an interview with Rajiv Tikoo of OneWorld South Asia, he explains how the IT sector has the potential to not only green itself, but other sectors, too.
OWSA: At the India Economic Summit 2011 in Mumbai, you said sustainability will be for the 21st century what the Internet was for the 20th. Please elaborate?
SG: Internet created increase in productivity. Internet created new businesses and Internet created new business models. All these happened in the 2nd half of 20th century. Similarly, sustainability is creating new businesses and new business models. It is also reducing costs of electricity and reducing the negative impact on environment.
OWSA: How far away are we from the day when the IT industry, going beyond greening itself, will bring in a step change in the whole industrial world in addressing sustainability challenges? Do you see any transformational breakthrough innovations coming by?
SG: According to the recent SMART 2020 report, by 2020, emissions from the ICT sector will represent an estimated 2.8% of total global emissions. However, ICT has the potential to enable others to achieve significant emission reductions, helping industries and consumers avoid an estimated 7.8 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions. That is 15% of predicated global emissions and of five times ICT’s own footprint.
ICT industry has a key role to play in enabling a low-carbon society—provide standardized information on energy consumption and emission across sectors, provide the capabilities and platforms to improve accountability in energy use and carbon emission. By replacing goods and services with virtual equivalents and by providing technology to enable energy efficiency, ICT has the potential to offer innovations that will capture energy efficient opportunities across industries including commercial buildings and homes, logistics and transport, power, manufacturing and others.
OWSA: What is Infosys doing?
SG: At Infosys, we have made commitments to reduce our per capita energy consumption by 50% over 2007 levels by the year 2017. Already, we have reduced power consumption by 24% in the last 18 months. We have also committed to sourcing 100% of all our electricity from renewable resources by the end of the year 2017. We aim to become carbon neutral across all our emissions by the year 2017.
We are also working with public policy makers to ensure that the right regulatory and fiscal frameworks are in place to move us all in the right direction. Infosys is making strides toward self-sustainability in water and engaging in experiments in building technology and legacy building. We have tried to make our employees and buildings use less energy and taken such solutions to our clients too.
For example, we were recently selected by a leading fashion eye ware brand to implement an industry-leading Enterprise Carbon, Energy and Resource Management (ECERM) software to monitor, analyse and report its energy and resource consumption.