Information Systems for Environmental Sustainability

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

When it comes to climate change, why study organizations?

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Sometimes I get this question. As an empiricist, I tend to respond with data to support my reasoning. In preparing for a January research talk on the adoption of carbon management systems (which help firms to manage and reduce carbon emissions), I prepared the following slide to quantify an estimate for CO2 emissions for organizations.

It was not straightforward, due to GHG accounting complexities such as how do we know the percentage of business use of US highways/roads versus non-business use (e.g., a personal trip trip to the grocery store). Anyhow, thanks to the US Department of State’s US Climate Action Report 2010, I was able to compute a rough estimate that for 2007  organizations accounted for 39-47% of total US GHG emissions. This is a significant percentage, and given the enormous footprints of global corporations, GHG reduction initiatives in organizations can have a significant impact on overall emission reductions (think WalMart).

Anyhow, here’s the slide. Input on how to improve this estimate is welcome.

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Author: nigelpm

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

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