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Why I believe Big Tech can help to save the planet

Read this article in The Herald from Colin Bryce, Managing Director of ScotlandIS member Cobry, a Glasgow-based digital transformation company and Google Cloud partner.

Commercial organisations seeking to tackle climate change have what’s known in the business as a ‘hard sell’.

Global corporations pushing a sustainability message tend to meet the kind of resistance Ronald McDonald or Colonel Sanders would face if they co-wrote a book about the benefits of veganism.

As a Glasgow-based company, we really caught the green bug as the city prepared to host the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in 2021.

Since then, we have implemented the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development goals, establishing a sustainability committee, and developed a new suite of sustainable products to offer our clients.

Basking in the glow of our own self-satisfaction, we can generally rely on a positive reception when we recount our contribution in helping to save the planet – until we reveal that we are Scotland’s principal, full-service Google Cloud partner.

After that, things can often go a bit quiet. Of course, it depends on the audience, but it’s fair to say there’s a commonly-held prejudice among some people against global corporations – particularly Big Tech – that their propensity to do “evil” corresponds directly to their size.

Unless you’re a climate change denier, you will accept that the future of humanity depends on our ability to reduce global warming, and the reality is that we can’t do it without the help of the world’s biggest companies.

Companies that support the UN’s Sustainable Development goals must be profitable enough to implement them, and the successful ones will be better placed to do good than those which are not.

While it doesn’t follow that “big is bad”, nor is it automatically the case that “big is good” and each of us – as consumers, employees, business partners and regulators – have a duty to hold the feet of large corporations to the fire, to ensure they are contributing all they can to the effort.

One of the images that “Big Tech is bad” denouncers often cite is of remote data centres, packed with thousands of loudly humming servers, pumping millions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

We live in an era of Big Tech and what cloud-based technology offers is a progressive alternative to the more polluting past, when all businesses, of every size, ran their own servers in cupboards and basements.

Cloud technology allows people in separate locations to collaborate as teams, as though they were in the same room, cutting down on the need to travel and to provide office space.

The contribution of an organisation towards tackling climate change is about more than the size of its carbon footprint. Reporting also plays an important role in helping consumers to see who’s doing what to help save the planet.

Everyone has their part to play in tackling climate change, from small-to-medium sized enterprises like ours, to global companies like Google and we can only hope that neither politics, nor prejudice, gets in the way of us making real progress.

Source: The Herald

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