Information Systems for Environmental Sustainability

IT, Resource Productivity, Environmental Preservation, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Carbon Mgmt. Software & Greenwashing


What is the role of IT in greenwashing? That’s a question that came up at an Erb panel last week. 

Now it turns out that ExxonMobil has adopted carbon management software by Locus Technologies, as reported in TechPulse360:

With new rules taking hold in the U.S. and U.K. requiring companies to report their carbon footprints, the market for carbon monitoring software should be expected to boom.

While this is good news for vendors, it also is likely to highlight the fragmented, topsy-turvy nature of this still evolving market place. It also means wrestling with the industry’s biggest fear: greenwash, the notion that the software is whitewashing carbon use and emissions to make a company look good.

I’m not sure if I agree that this is “the industry’s greatest fear.” It’s not even clear what industry this is referring to. Is the basic idea here that software can enable a firm to fudge its numbers? Pretty serious claim, if so,  which I wouldn’t make without some evidence to back it up…

Exxonmobil’s decision to buy software from Locus Technologies shows the huge opportunites ahead of environmental management software.

Or maybe it just means that they need to comply with EPA, SEC, et. al.

In a downplayed announcement on Monday, the oil giant and past global warming naysayer ExxonMobil said it had begun implementing carbon-monitoring software from Locus Technologies. The move suggests that even some of the most reluctant corporations see the value in a genuine effort to keep track of CO2 and other greenhouse gas contributors.

I should start a “reluctant corporation” list of firms that adopt CMS.


Author: nigelpm

Associate Professor of Information Systems, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan - Helping organizations to navigate digital transformation.

3 thoughts on “Carbon Mgmt. Software & Greenwashing

  1. You can’t manage what you don’t monitor. I see this as nothing but a step in the right direction. True, questions about the accuracy of the reporting and the translation into reduced ecological (and economic) harm still remain. However, that’s not unique to Exxonmobil.

  2. Zach, I agree. You cant report or improve what you dont know. Corporations have long been collecting information in a variety of environmental areas aside from just GHGs. Remediation and EHS for example have pretty clear reporting requirements. And this isn’t just unique to Exxon. We help a number of companies in a variety of industries track environmental data. Chevron, Honeywell, Raytheon, Ashland Chemical, DOE, Altsom… the list is long. We have been web based for 15 years.

    in general the environmental software industry has a variety of options and many fish in this sea. The real questions come down to requirements. What will come to from the EPA or other governing bodies (or has already in some areas)? What level of tracking are corporations going do voluntarily? What are the real motives, and do the motives really matter as long as they begin to do it? Also keep in mind manufactures and traditional polluters vs companies that just consume resources will have different challenges and requirements as well.

    It will be interesting to see how everything plays out.

  3. Pingback: Web 2.0 & Sustainability « Information Systems for Environmental Sustainability

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