By Paresh Dave
(Reuters) – Reuters surveyed 20 large companies that both report their carbon footprints and embrace remote work about whether they estimate carbon emissions from employees’ home offices.
Half of the companies measure the impact of remote work, with at least seven of those taking measures in response, while the other half had not done anything. Here are more details on how companies are confronting the challenging intersection of home offices and climate change.
ACCOUNTING FOR HOME OFFICES
Atlassian Corporation Plc, a collaboration software maker, estimated emissions of 3,365 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (mtCO2e) in the year ended June 30, 2021 from remote work by its over 6,000 employees that year. Combined emissions from commuting and remote work fell 32% from the year-earlier period. Its goal to operate on 100% renewable energy does not apply to remote work, but it is evaluating how to address remote-work emissions.
Fidelity Investments Inc, a Boston-based financial services company, estimated 29,505 mtCO2e in 2020 from remote work by its 49,000 employees that year. It did not count the emissions in its carbon footprint.
Google, a unit of Silicon Valley tech company Alphabet Inc, estimated 56,000 mtCO2e in 2020 from remote work by its 135,000 employees that year. Its goal to operate on 24/7 carbon-free energy by 2030 does not apply to remote work, but it purchases high-quality carbon credits to offset home-office emissions.
Meta Platforms Inc, owner of Facebook, estimated 61,000 mtCO2e in 2020 combined from employee commuting and remote work by its about 58,600 employees that year. The combined emissions were down 32% from the prior year. It completely matched remote-work electricity use with renewable energy purchases.
Microsoft Corp, the U.S. tech giant, estimated 80,000 mtCO2e in the year ended June 30, 2021 combined from employee commuting and remote work by its 181,000 employees. It accounts for remote work in its goal to cut indirect emissions by more than half between 2020 and 2030.
Netflix Inc, the video streaming service, said that it included estimates for remote-work emissions in its carbon footprint in 2020 but declined to elaborate.
Okta Inc, a San Francisco-based software company, estimated 2,167 mtCO2e in the year ended Jan. 31, 2021 combined from employee commuting and remote work by its 2,800 employees. It completely matched remote-work electricity use with renewable energy purchases in the year ended Jan. 31, 2022.
Salesforce.com Inc, a San Francisco business software maker with over 73,000 employees, estimated 22,000 mtCO2e in the year ended Jan. 31, 2021 from remote work. It excludes remote-work electricity from its goal of using 100% renewable energy, but did offset all emissions from remote work beginning with the year ended Jan. 31, 2022.
Shopify Inc, a commerce tools developer, estimated 1,300 mtCO2e in 2020 from remote work by its over 7,000 employees at the time. It completely matched remote-work electricity use with renewable energy.
Siemens AG, a German industrials giant, estimated 22,000 mtCO2e in the year ended Sept. 30, 2021 from remote work by its 303,000 employees. It counts remote work in its goal to reduce scope 3, or indirect, emissions by 15% by 2030 compared with 2019.
Twitter Inc, a San Francisco social media company, has not published any findings yet but said that it has developed “a program that measures carbon emissions throughout the Twitter supply chain, including emissions from workers home offices and Twitters leased office spaces.”
Dropbox Inc, a San Francisco online storage provider, said it is committed to fighting global warming and exploring different reporting options, including to account for remote work.
Fujitsu, a Japanese tech conglomerate, said it is considering factoring emissions from remote work in the future.
Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc, a New York-based professional services giant, said it is researching best options for measuring emissions from remote work as standards get refined.
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co, a Columbus, Ohio financial services seller, said its home-office “reporting method is not ready for primetime” and that it would adopt “new best practices” on emissions accounting as it gains more experience with hybrid work.
Recreational Equipment Inc, a U.S. outdoor gear retailer also known as REI, said it continuously improves its emissions reporting and awaits uniform industry standards to account for remote work.
DECLINED TO SAY
U.S.-based online retailer Amazon.com Inc along with London-based consulting titan PricewaterhouseCoopers and San Francisco bank Wells Fargo & Co do not estimate remote work emissions and all declined to comment on whether they would start doing so.
U.S. tech company Apple Inc said it has not estimated remote work emissions because “we anticipated these emissions are small relative to our carbon footprint and we are still evolving our methodology.”
(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)