Sony hits greenhouse gas emission cuts target early

Sony is beating its own target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and will promote a sustainable lifestyle to consumers, CEO Howard Stringer said Friday.

Sony is beating its own target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and will begin promoting a sustainable lifestyle to consumers through its products, its chief executive said Friday.

"Sony alone has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 9 percent to date, exceeding our original target of a 7 per cent reduction by 2010," said Howard Stringer, chairman and CEO of Sony, at the World Wide Fund for Nature's (WWF) Climate Savers conference in Tokyo. The conference was held at Sony's new headquarters in Tokyo, which itself has helped the company to achieve its goal. Greenhouse gas emissions from the building are 40 percent lower than at equivalent conventional buildings.

Sony is one of 12 companies that has joined the WWF's Climate Savers initiative, under which they pledge to an aggressive cut in greenhouse gas emissions. Tech companies Hewlett-Packard and Nokia are also members as are Allianz, Catalyst, Collins Companies, Nike, Novo Nordisk, Sagawa Express, Spitsbergen Travel, Tetra Pak and Xanterra Parks and Resorts.

At the conference the companies signed a declaration that recommitted themselves to action and expanded their work to include partnering with business partners to further cut emissions, the promotion of a low-carbon lifestyle to their customers and greater transparency of their carbon footprint and environmental activities.

"For Sony this means we will proactively look to expand our emissions reductions beyond our sites to include logistics and other parts of our business," said Stringer. "We must also continue to improve the energy efficiency of our products, particularly televisions which consume the most energy of all our home electronics products. Yet while the trend is towards larger screens and more sophisticated functions that inevitably consume more power Sony's televisions are already among the industry leaders in terms of energy efficiency."

Stringer said Sony expects the operating power of electronics products to be reduced to half their existing levels in a few years.

"I am confident that our engineers can meet these expectations," he said.

And just as the company has created products like the Walkman Stringer said Sony will now look to promote and help people adopt sustainable lifestyles through its products.

For companies like Sony one of the greatest inefficiencies in their products comes from the standby power that is consumed continuously when the device is not in use. It's not a great deal of power per product but the number of such devices has multiplied in recent years so the total amount of energy used in this way is now becoming quite large.

"Standby power is a huge and growing share of electricity use because those things are plugged in 24/7 but nobody when they buy a computer buys it based on its efficiency in using standby power," said James Leape , director general of WWF International, at a Tokyo news conference. "You're thinking about a hundred other things when you buy your computer and so the market doesn't work. And so standards are crucial and the industry can lead on that by defining norms but its a place where government action can be quite important."

Many of the largest PC makers have joined together under the banner of the Climate Savers computing initiative and have pledged to reduce power consumption of computers by 50 per cent by 2010. The companies plan to highlight some of their advances and technologies at the Cebit exhibition that will take place in Germany in March.

Energy use by IT equipment is growing fast. The recently published report, "An Inefficient Truth," found about 10 per cent of energy consumption in the UK is by IT equipment -- equivalent to the output of four nuclear power stations.

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Martyn Williams

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