Under this strategy, Intel committed to reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across its global operations by 2040 for the sake of raising energy efficiency as well as lowering the carbon footprint of its products and platforms.
Intel also pledged to continue working with customers and industry partners in order to develop solutions that help communities mitigate and adapt to the implications of climate change.
In this interview, Chief Sustainability Officer at Intel Corporation and Vice President of Global Public Affairs, Todd Brady, explains the progress the company has made since the launch of the strategy, its plans through 2030 in this respect, and the progress of such effort in the Egyptian market.
As Chief Sustainability Officer, Brady leads Intel’s global sustainability initiatives including climate, energy, water, green buildings and circular economy.
Currently, Intel focuses on achieving its ambitious 2030 sustainability goals and commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in its global operations by 2040.
“Our 2040 net-zero goal announced last year builds on literally decades of work that we have done. Over the past couple of decades, we have really focused on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Today, we have already reduced those emissions by about 75-80 percent. So we have taken a number of actions previously to get us here,” said Brady.
He added that Intel’s goal to net-zero is set to address climate change that is impacting the world.
“Thus, we set a target for 2040 to get to that remaining 20-25 percent, which quite honestly is the most challenging, because we have done the things that were easier. They were still challenging, but they were easier. And now we are left with the remaining items, which are more challenging to get down to that net-zero. So what we have learned over the past year is that it's going to take work not only from Intel, but from our entire supply chain,” Brady explained.
Brady stressed that both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sustainability are not consonant with achieving in business.
“We focus quite a bit on energy efficiency in our operations; as one of the largest semiconductor manufacturers in the world, making our operations more energy efficient lowers our costs and reduces our carbon emissions. So the two go hand in hand, sustainability and good business practices. Similarly, we are also focused on reducing the amount of water we use to become more efficient in our water consumption,” Brady giving an example.
Brady also pointed to the SEMI, which is the Semiconductor Climate Consortium Intel joined as a founding leadership member last year with a clear mission of advancing collaboration across the semiconductor value chain in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“When it comes to reducing the impact of climate change, no one company, no one country can do it on their own. We all have to work collaboratively to reach the necessary reduction in emissions that we need to curb climate change and global warming.”
On Intel’s next steps and expectations throughout the upcoming years, Brady explained that there are three key areas Intel is focusing on. The first area, according to Brady, focuses on renewables.
“Today we run our global operations with over 90 percent using renewable electricity - we have already reached 100 percent in the U.S. and other regions. In order to get to that last 10 percent, we are working with the countries where Intel has operations in.”
The second area centers around dealing with the fact that using greenhouse gasses is critical for manufacturers of semiconductors.
“We've taken steps to abate greenhouse gas emissions, and so we emit far fewer than we did many years ago. However, we need to get to zero. And so to get to zero, we either need to come up with additional controls, novel abatement technologies, or find fundamentally different chemistries to make semiconductors. And that's quite a challenge, given the intricacy of building a semiconductor”, said Brady.
The third area concentrates on the use of fossil fuels.
“We use natural gas for industrial heating applications, and today there's no easy drop-in replacement for that. That’s something that we, as well as any big industrial users, need to figure out - how we either stop the use of natural gas, phase out that use of natural gas, or find more climate-friendly alternatives as we go forward,” Brady emphasized.
Touching upon the radical changes the company has carried out to work towards its net-zero target, Brady clarified that Intel started this journey two years ago.
Brady also spoke about the role the private sector should play in the journey of reaching net-zero goals in different communities.
That said, Brady noted that companies need to set targets and goals, as well as take initiative.
“Whether there is a government requirement to do so or not, companies should take the initiative to set a goal; such as what we've done and many others have done to kind of draw a line in the sand and say we want to achieve a net-zero by a certain date and then start moving in that direction,” Brady affirmed.
The private sector, along with governments all around the world, need to advocate for action around climate change, which presents as increased drought, changes in weather patterns and natural disasters.
“All of those things introduce risks for our business and for all commerce. And so these are real issues that we would like for our governmental leaders to think about strategically and how we can collectively then work together to reduce those issues”, according to Brady.
Intel has done great efforts in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions within Scope 1 & 2 with plans to tap into Scope 3. In this regard, Brady explained that Intel’s net-zero goal focuses mainly on Scope 1 & 2. Yet, Intel has an interim goal to reduce its supply chain emissions - Scope 3 - by 30 percent by 2030, according to Brady.
“The reason we have not yet set a net-zero goal for our supply chain is we need to do more work with our supply chain to define the baseline, to define where we are today. One of the challenges as you get into Scope 3 emissions is inconsistencies in how data is reported and how data is tracked. This is one of the reasons we formed the Semiconductor Climate Consortium; to pull all of our suppliers together. And one of the first work groups, one of the first tasks that we have is to ensure we have a common methodology for calculating Scope 3 emissions. And as we get that defined, then we will be able to set a net-zero target”, Brady highlighted.
Speaking from a wider angle, Brady said that reaching net-zero is critical to achieve sustainability in any community because of the impacts of climate change that obviously have adverse impacts not only on the environment, but on economies and communities.
“Climate change is the most pressing global environmental challenge right now,” he asserted. Brady noted that the whole move to net-zero is to address climate change and to do that in a systematic manner.
For Intel's procedures in monitoring, tracking and measuring progress of this strategy, Brady stated that the company is doing that in a variety of ways.
“We have just released our annual corporate responsibility report where we track all the various metrics that we're working on as a company, from social metrics and what we're doing in those areas to sustainability and environmental metrics.” Brady explained.
“We track all the indicators to show how we're progressing towards that, and the report is reviewed and audited by a third party. In addition to that, we report through a number of different protocols”, Brady added.
He also stressed: “I think it is very critical, not only for countries or governments, but for whoever sets a goal, to be accountable, report progress and to be very transparent about where things are going well and where there's still more work to do.”
Brady concluded the interview by adding: “We look at sustainability, certainly climate change, as the most critical topic that we need to cover. However, it's not the only place where we have to focus. And so in addition to reducing carbon emissions, Intel has goals and targets related to water, water consumption, waste and waste generation, and a number of other areas to reduce our footprint.”
He added: “Although climate change is the most important issue for us right now, we can't forget some of the other areas as well, else they become issues or challenges for us in the future. So it's critical to look at our entire footprint and take action in all of those areas.”