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Archive for the ‘carbon neutral’ Category

Yahoo_carbon_neutralLargely overlooked in the predictable media hullabaloo over Yahoo’s (YHOO) not-so-hot quarterly earnings Tuesday was the announcement that the Internet giant will neutralize its greenhouse gas emissions by New Year’s Eve. Yeah, tell me something new, you might well say, now that just about every company save ExxonMobil is joining the carbon-neutral brigade. But there are a few things about Yahoo’s approach worth noting – and emulating. For one thing, the company is not greenwashing away eco-guilt by just writing a check to offset CO2 produced by its server farms and sprawling headquarters. "We know carbon neutrality isnít without controversy," wrote Yahoo co-founder David Filo on his blog yesterday. "And itís honestly deserved if companies and individuals donít first make an effort to find direct ways to reduce their impact. Weíll continue to be vigilant about cutting ours, looking for creative ways to power our facilities, encourage even more employees to seek alternative commutes, and generally inspire Yahoos around the world to think differently about their energy use."  First, Yahoo is hiring an outside auditor to calculate its "carbon footprint" to gauge its contribution to global warming. Commuting is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Silicon Valley and Yahoo already offers programs designed to get employees out of their cars – from Wi-Fi-equipped biodiesel shuttle buses to bike lockers and public transit subsidies. The Sunnyvale company also has implemented various energy efficiency and recycling initiatives. But to go completely carbon neutral, Yahoo will finance renewable energy projects, and it’s being upfront about how it will do that: The company will invest only in programs that produce direct and measurable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions; those results will be verified by an outside auditor; and the company will only support projects that result in additional C02 reductions that would not have otherwise happened.

Which brings Green Wombat to another issue in the carbon neutral debate: transparency. Yahoo’s decision to lay out its thinking, criteria and plan of action will help give credibility to corporate carbon campaigns and put questionable carbon credit middlemen and their clients on notice. The company is also enhancing is green cred by using Web 2.0 to involve Yahoo users and crowdsource them for ideas it can adopt to fight global warming. Yesterday, Filo went on Yahoo Answers and threw out to the masses the question, "How should Yahoo go carbon neutral?" As I write this, 204 people have posted replies. And in contrast to the smart-ass postings that often appear on Yahoo Answers, many gave Filo thoughtful and potentially useful proposals.

Rival Google (GOOG) also has committed itself to take the green path by installing a massive solar array on its headquarters buildings, subsidizing employee purchases of fuel-efficient cars, etc. So who knows – maybe it won’t be too far down the road when analysts on a quarterly earnings call ask about a company’s greenhouse gas emissions, and Wall Street whacks its share price when the numbers go up, not down.

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