Nandan M. Nilekani
Co-Chairman, Infosys Technologies Limited
Davos, January 24, 2008
It’s nice to be back in Davos. I have been talking to delegates on a wide range of issues. The conversation here is dominated by a possible recession in the U.S. and a slowdown in the world economy. I just hope our preoccupation with the current financial situation does not distract us from climate change.
The carbon conundrum
Today, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is 380 parts per million (ppm), up from 280 ppm at the beginning of the industrial revolution. Even as emerging economies achieve a higher standard of living, they exert increasing pressure on the world’s resources. We are consuming resources 25% faster than they can be replaced. We need to focus our efforts and be willing to make investments in our journey towards clean energy.
Bearing the cost of development
Ironically, while there is excess consumption of resources in certain parts of the world, many regions, particularly in the developing world, lack potable water and sanitation services. More than 1 billion people do not have access to drinking water and 2.6 billion people do not have adequate sanitation.
I spoke to a few people from the oil industry and they are convinced about the inevitability of a ‘carbon cost’ in the next five to ten years and they are already working that cost into their business models and investment decisions. If we really want a big push towards clean energy we must create incentives to migrate to non-carbon technologies.
I believe Information Technology can evolve sustainable models of development as energy efficiency is intimately related to technology. IT can help design smart grid solutions for utilities. With thoughtful engineering we can help design green buildings that harvest sunlight.
First, a change of attitude
Infosys can share its expertise in technology and business transformation to help companies become eco-friendly. First, by leading by example and showing that it can be done. Second, by exploring how we can use our knowledge to drive companies to go green.
We have over 80,000 employees working in development centers around the world. We are encouraging them to reduce their carbon footprint. Recently, we urged our investors to opt for paperless communication. I believe these small steps will catalyze the most significant change – a change of attitude.
Later today, I look forward to participating in a discussion on ‘Green IT’ and some fruitful discussions on climate change over dinner. If we channel our collective energies in the right direction, the environment can benefit from our growth and progress.