We’ve just released the latest version of our Cool IT Leaderboard, and Cisco has leapt to the top of our list of global tech companies leading the way toward a cleaner, greener high-tech future. 

Cisco doubled its score from the previous version of our leaderboard by demonstrating the effectiveness of its solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, Ericsson made a strong debut in the second place spot.

Greenpeace Cool IT Leaderboard version 3You can download the Cool IT Leaderboard version 3 as a PDF, if you like.

The IT sector has the potential to quickly design and implement technologies that achieve greater energy efficiency and cuts in carbon emissions. But as the IT sector grows, its growth must be powered by clean energy sources rather than dirty 19th century technologies like coal. Which is to say, the industry must ensure that its own growing carbon footprint doesn’t negate the impact of the solutions it’s offering. 

Our report, “Make IT Green: Cloud Computing and its Contribution to Climate Change,” shows that the rise of cloud computing represents a major challenge to the otherwise positive climate contributions of the IT sector. The report finds that the “cloud” – comprised of cloud computing services such as social networks, video streaming, email, and photo storage, as well as the telecommunications networks that give us access any time and anywhere to data stored in centralized data centers rather than on our computers’ hard drives — is poised to gobble up three times as much energy in 2020 as it currently does today. 

The data centers running the cloud draw electricity from the grid to run the servers that bring us Facebook, Gmail, Flickr, and YouTube to our laptops, iPhones, or tablet computers. With these amazing technological achievements, IT companies are remaking our society. They are to the 21st century as fossil fuel companies were to the past — they have the power to shape the economy and, in turn, the future of our climate. So while Microsoft, Google, IBM, and other Leaderboard companies must use their considerable political influence to lead the transformation to a clean energy economy backed by smart grids and smart technology, they also need to be mindful of their own share of climate pollution.