Dell’s Carbon Neutral Claims Draw Negative Press

WSJ goes into detail on Dell’s Carbon Neutral claims.

Green Goal of 'Carbon Neutrality' Hits Limit


ROUND ROCK, Texas -- Computer giant Dell Inc. said this summer that it has become "carbon neutral," the latest step in its quest to be "the greenest technology company on the planet."

What that means, and what it doesn't, may surprise Dell customers and other consumers who have been bombarded with bold environmental promises from major corporations.

The negative issues start.

The amount of emissions Dell has committed to neutralize is known in the environmental industry as the company's "carbon footprint." But there is no universally accepted standard for what a footprint should include, and so every company calculates its differently. Dell counts the emissions produced by its boilers and company-owned cars, its buildings' electricity use, and its employees' business air travel.

In fact, that's only a small fraction of all the emissions associated with Dell. The footprint doesn't include the oil used by Dell's suppliers to make its computer parts, the diesel and jet fuel used to ship those computers around the world, or the coal-fired electricity used to run them.

Dell's announcement that it had achieved carbon neutrality didn't go into these details. But in an interview, Dell officials estimate that the emissions produced by its suppliers and consumers each amount to about 10 times the footprint Dell has defined for itself. That means the company is only neutralizing about 5% of the greenhouse gases that go into the making and use of its products.

Moreover, while Dell is improving its energy efficiency, it is claiming carbon neutrality mostly by purchasing environmental "credits." These are financial instruments that bankroll environmental improvements made by others, such as running wind turbines or planting forests. Dell reasons that these credits cancel out the bulk of its carbon footprint.

Yet some of those improvements would have occurred whether or not Dell invested in them, according to some of the companies involved. That suggests Dell isn't ridding the atmosphere of as much pollution as it claims.

And, other press have picked up on this.

WSJ Slams Dell Over Carbon Neutral Claim
Environmental Leader, CO - 1 hour ago
The Wall Street Journal has slammed Dell over the announcement it made back in August about reaching its carbon neutral goal. The problem, according to WSJ, ...

Dell Carbon Neutral claims exaggerated
TweakTown, Australia - 3 hours ago
If you are a regular watcher of the TV Show Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe you know that not everyone agrees with the new “Green” movement. ...

Wall Street Journal pours cold water on Dell's green claims
Fudzilla, Bosnia and Herzegovina - 8 hours ago
The Wall Street Journal has been taking the mickey out of Dell's claims to be carbon neutral. Dell has been touting its green credentials for some time and ...

Report: Dell’s Claim of Carbon Neutrality Less Green, More PR
RealTechNews, CA - 10 hours ago
By Michael Santo I had my doubts about Dell’s claim of carbon neutrality, when they trumpeted it in August, and it appears I was right. ...

How Carbon Neutral Is Dell, Really?
GigaOm, CA - 20 hours ago
I am highly skeptical when big companies get trendy and start spewing cool. Lately going green has become the new black. Dell in particular has been making ...

Dell's "Carbon Neutrality" Is Really a Bunch of Cow Poop
Gizmodo - 21 hours ago
By matt buchanan , 4:40 PM on Tue Dec 30 2008, 415 views Over the summer, Dell declared that it had become "carbon neutral." You would think that meant, ...

Questions raised about Dell's carbon neutral claim
The Industry Standard, CA - 22 hours ago
In an August announcement, Dell Inc bragged that it had "met its carbon neutral goal," and was no longer contributing to global warming. ...

Carbon neutrality murkier than you’d think - Dec 30, 2008
Dell has declared itself carbon neutral but good luck defining and auditing what that means exactly.The Wall Street Journal has an interesting story on Dell ...

PR people need to watch out as the greenwash filtering is getting better.

What’s next?  Carbon emissions compliance.  If you are going to make claims of carbon neutral, you need to have a compliance system in place to prove your claims.