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Intel Pledges to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions to Zero by 2040

Intel publishes annual corporate responsibility reports that detail its carbon emissions. It estimated its 2020 emissions to be the equivalent of 3 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide in its most recent report. That's the same amount of pollution produced by over 646,000 cars each year.

Shivam Dwivedi
Patrick P. Gelsinger, CEO, Intel
Patrick P. Gelsinger, CEO, Intel

Intel announced that it will reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2040, marking the latest commitment by a Silicon Valley behemoth to combat climate change. The chipmaker's strategy calls for a $300 million investment in energy-saving measures such as facility upgrades to reduce power consumption.

It also necessitates changes in chip manufacturing to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, which traps heat from the sun.

Intel publishes annual corporate responsibility reports that detail its carbon emissions. It estimated its 2020 emissions to be the equivalent of 3 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide in its most recent report. That's the same amount of pollution produced by over 646,000 cars each year.

In a video message about the plan, CEO Pat Gelsinger said, "We are committing to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across our operations by 2040." Despite Intel's rapidly expanding operations, including two new "megafab" manufacturing sites in Ohio and Germany, he said, the emissions reductions will occur.

Intel's net-zero pledge follows the announcements of other tech giants to reduce carbon emissions. Apple, for example, pledged two years ago to be carbon neutral by 2030. Microsoft is aiming to become carbon negative over the course of its corporate life by reversing carbon emissions. Google claims to have already eliminated its carbon footprint.

The need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide produced by coal and gasoline combustion, has become increasingly urgent. According to a February Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that reviewed decades of research, rising temperatures have resulted in more extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and shrinking biodiversity.

Some businesses are reducing emissions in order to help limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a goal that has become more difficult to achieve each year but is still within reach.

In an interview, Brady said, "To get to zero, we need to fundamentally think differently about how we've done things so far." According to him, the company will push the semiconductor industry to research and adopt new chemistries for manufacturing semiconductors.

Brady compared the effort to replace PFCs to a move away from chlorofluorocarbons, which were discovered to be destroying the Earth's protective ozone layer. He estimates that replacing PFCs will take a decade.

Intel will reduce its direct emissions through a variety of methods. In the United States, it already uses 100 percent renewable energy, a practice it plans to expand to Israel, Malaysia, and other countries.

What Does It Mean to Be Carbon Neutral?

It's difficult to reduce a company's carbon footprint. Scope 1 refers to a company's direct emissions; Scope 2 refers to indirect emissions from the power it uses, and Scope 3 refers to the vastly broader emissions from a company's suppliers and customers. In the case of Intel, this includes things like the operations of materials suppliers and the power consumed by millions of Intel-powered PCs in homes and servers in data centres.

Intel's net-zero commitment is limited to scopes 1 and 2. Scope 3 is being worked on by the company, which is improving the energy efficiency of its products. Suppliers are already ranked in part based on their sustainability efforts.

Intel had previously set a goal to increase the energy efficiency of its main processors by a factor of ten by 2030. Furthermore, it anticipates a fivefold increase in efficiency with the release of Falcon Shores in 2024, which combines an Intel CPU and graphics chip into a single processing package, versus earlier PCs with separate graphics chips.

Contributing to the fight against climate change "It's probably the greatest challenge...that mankind is currently facing," he said. It is "an expectation from our customers, an expectation from our investors, and an expectation from our employees" to deal with it.

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