How big of a threat is climate change? According to a survey of 750 experts conducted by the World Economic Forum: “Catastrophe caused by climate change is seen as the biggest potential threat to the global economy in 2016.” The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says “climate change poses a fundamental threat to the places, species and people’s livelihoods…” “To adequately address this crisis we must urgently reduce carbon pollution and prepare for the consequences of global warming, which we are already experiencing…”

With consensus that climate change is a global threat, it is incumbent on all of us to do what we can to reduce our impact. While the call to action is clear, the solutions have been vague – until now: Enter the Science Based Targets Initiative. This partnership between the leading climate action groups is designed to help companies set emission reduction targets in line with what climate science says is necessary to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

A leading designer of technology that powers millions of intelligent devices, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is also a leader in corporate responsibility. This year we published our twenty first annual corporate responsibility report – a record few companies can match – and announced new “Science Based Targets” to combat climate change.

What this means is that AMD’s new climate protection goals – which cover our supply chain, our physical operations and the energy consumed by our products – have been verified as aggressive enough to address AMD’s role in mitigating climate change. As of this writing, AMD is one of only 17 companies – and the first semiconductor company – to have its climate protection targets verified as based on climate science.

A distinctive aspect of our climate targets is the focus on our products. Many companies solely look at their own operations to establish climate targets. Indeed, it’s important to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from facilities that are directly controlled, but is it a complete solution?

Last year, AMD published a carbon footprint study that not only showed a massive jump in energy efficiency for a new generation of our processors, but also indicated that about 80% of the carbon footprint of AMD’s processors stem from the electricity used by our products. This observation was profound to us. It meant that, to be effective in our fight against climate change, we must increase our focus on the power efficiency of our products.

AMD’s 25×20 initiative is a great example. We are ahead of pace for achieving a 25 times improvement by 2020 in the energy efficiency of our mobile accelerated processing units from a 2014 baseline. And looking forward, we are expanding to other product lines, such as graphics processing units (GPUs).
These gains are no small achievement. In fact, our progress on processor energy efficiency was honored by Environmental Leader with a 2016 Project of The Year award. The judges viewed our 25×20 vision as “ambitious and audacious.” Through architectural enhancements and intelligent power management techniques and other improvements, the initiative has already produced strong results and more are in the pipeline.

While driving energy efficiency in our products is not the easiest solution, we know it is the right solution. This is the biggest part of our carbon footprint and, the innovations spurred by our 25×20 initiative will not only benefit the climate but also will help technology users save on their energy bills while continuing to enjoy outstanding computing performance.
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Tim Mohin is Senior Director of Corporate Responsibility for Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and the author of the book, Changing Business from the Inside Out: A Treehugger’s Guide to Working in Corporations (Greenleaf and Berrett-Kohler).His postings (and comments made in his book) are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied. Follow Tim @TimJMohin and check out AMD’s latest Corporate Responsibility Report.