Digital Responsibility: A Major New Challenge
As the use of digital devices keeps on growing, their impact on the environment is not to be overlooked. Indeed, this sector totaled 3.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, which would represent approximately 7.6% in 2025. The aviation sector, considered as a very polluting sector, currently represents 2% of these emissions. It is therefore essential to take measures to raise awareness among users. This is the principle behind the rise of Corporate Social Responsibility policies in the digital world.
At a time when blockchain technologies are exploding in the virtual world, a major problem is also raised by their massive use: the energy consumption that this entails. Indeed, these technologies for storing and transmitting information are very energy intensive due to the encryption methods and operations they use. The Bitcoin network, for example, had an electricity consumption in 2019 of between 30 and 90 TWh and a carbon footprint of 15 to 40 MtCO2-eq, comparable to the use of countries like Austria, Belgium or Denmark. In January 2022, this number exceeded 134 TWh, and now exceeds the annual consumption of Sweden.
Because of the very high costs involved, a new threat is growing: Pirate mining. Although this threat also affects public and so-called “consortium” technologies, the most affected are private blockchain technologies, present in the infrastructures of specialized companies, which are multiplying over the years.
As this activity requires both the purchase of expensive dedicated hardware as well as a high cost of electricity, hackers are therefore increasingly interested in this method that allows them to profit from this cryptocurrency mining activity without having to pay its costs. Almost impossible to trace, this allows hackers to steal the resources needed for the mining activity in a company, while the unsuspecting company continues to pay for the costs associated with energy consumption, as well as its teams of professional miners and the equipment used.
In other words, a real loss of revenue for the infrastructure, which does not suspect anything, as the process is often presented in a correct way by the infected devices.
In order to avoid becoming an attacker’s prime target, it is therefore important to implement a suitable and comprehensive cybersecurity solution that can provide complete protection against hacker mining malware.
Because more and more consumers are very critical against companies, and want them to respect carefully the laws and the environment, but also to be more responsible in the broadest sense of the term; the sustainable development approach is therefore taking on a new scope and is gradually becoming part of a real strategy.
Defined by the European Commission as “the voluntary integration by companies of social and environmental concerns” into their activities, CSR has gained influence in the daily life of French companies over the last ten years, increasingly affecting their business performance.
But behind these objectives, what are the real actions to implement?
Putting sustainable development into practice on a corporate scale.
The promise of dematerialization of activities, with a beneficial energy gain on the environment, is today the concern of all. According to the international standard ISO 26000 published in November 2010, 7 areas fall within the scope of Corporate Social Responsibility:
- Organizational Governance;
- Human rights ;
- Labor relations and working conditions;
- Environment ;
- Fair practices;
- Consumer issues;
- Communities and local development.
But corporate CSR is not a recent concept, as it dates back to the 1950s with the theorization of Archie B. Caroll and ‘The Pyramid of Corporate Social Responsibility’.
Then come the Grenelle 1 and 2 laws, encouraging socially and environmentally responsible investment, with the flagship measure being the transparency that companies with more than 500 employees will have to demonstrate in this area.
“Make users aware of the environmental impact of digital technology”.
With these different laws, CSR is becoming a crucial element of companies’ strategies. It is not only a question of staying within the law but also of imposing oneself on the market, CSR then becoming a real tool for communication and commercial development 2.0.
Over the past six years, the proportion of French companies whose CSR is described as “exemplary” has tripled:
How to measure RSE ?
To achieve these objectives, many tools are being developed to enable companies to better quantify their performance and actions:
- LCA: Life Cycle Assessment;
- CSR reporting: to communicate the reporting of indicators to stakeholders;
- GRI: Global Reporting Initiative, to help companies build their report;
- Official ranking indexes, which help to understand risks and to understand them;
- Carbon footprint: Allows companies to account for their direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions (mandatory for companies with more than 500 employees);
- The extra-financial performance statement: Document published by the company each year to summarize and make public the actions taken.
CSR best practices in 2022 in the digital world:
- Promote energy-efficient data centers and reduce carbon footprint:
Because Big Data is currently very energy-intensive, electronic communications operators will have to publish key indicators on their greenhouse gas emissions mitigation or control policy (eco-design policy for products and services, awareness of responsible use, etc.). The objectives of the key indicators must be consistent with the expectations of the national low-carbon development strategy (L. 222 1 B of the Environmental Code). The ambition is that by 2050, “national greenhouse gas emissions should be less than or equal to the quantities of greenhouse gases absorbed by ecosystems managed by humans (forests, grasslands, agricultural soils, etc.) and by certain industrial processes (carbon capture, storage and reuse).
Thus, it will be necessary to favor fiber connectivity, the least energy consuming network. However, care must be taken to ensure that the gains in energy efficiency do not cancel each other out. Indeed, this can contribute to an increase in digital uses. The same goes for 5G, which uses half the energy of 4G but could contribute to the increase in connectivity with connected objects. And it would increase the manufacturing of the latter.
It is therefore necessary to supervise and monitor electronic communications operators.
- Embrace ‘Green IT’ : Adopting a sustainable development approach makes your company more attractive! Adopt an action plan by buying reconditioned equipment rather than new, put your screen in dark mode, sort your mailbox, use an ecological web hosting.
- Think about recycling and review its waste production;
- Renovate and insulate its buildings;
- Establish rules for responsible purchasing;
- Establish a social pillar by training and making all employees aware of good practices.
We cannot deny that digital technology is undoubtedly essential to support the current ecological transition, and so innovations in the sector are based on the sustainable management of our resources. But these environmental gains are countered by direct impacts in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, and we are now all concerned by the implementation of a quality CSR.
It is therefore urgent to start taking effective measures to avoid reaching the 24 million tons of carbon equivalent by 2040 (7% of emissions in France).
As a company that has been at the heart of digital technology for more than 11 years, ZIWIT/ HTTPCS is committed to placing CSR at the heart of its product development by adopting significant eco-friendly conduct.
Because this can be difficult to understand, Ziwit now also offers various services to help you implement these best practices in a sustainable manner.
With quality monitoring by our experts, your company will become socially responsible, investing in human capital and the environment, allowing you to better manage resources internally, in accordance with established international standards.
Give yourself the means to act and add value to your company by calling on our teams of experts.