Feature Story

Our commitment to a sustainable future

by Francine Katsoudas

Our commitment to a sustainable future

See how Cisco is committed to making impact by funding and promoting climate solutions.

The climate crisis is without a doubt one of the greatest challenges the world is facing. So when we think about creating a more sustainable future, we can’t just talk the talk – we must also walk the walk. Confronting the climate crisis is going to require strategic urgency, responding to immediate needs but also investing in innovative solutions to help scale for impact in the years to come. That’s why I’m so proud that the Cisco Foundation is pledging $100 million over ten years to combat climate change. By funding nonprofits grants and impact investing, we are committed to making real impact funding and promoting climate solutions.

Funding programs with measurable impact

According to a study by the United Nations Development Programme released in January, there is an international consensus that we must act boldly and quickly to combat climate change: 68% of people in 50 countries agree that climate change is a global emergency, and that’s true even as we face the challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

But there is a disconnect between that concern and individual activism. We can all feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the climate crisis which is why the Cisco Foundation will prioritize community education to help empower people around the world, illuminating the crucial role that individuals have to play in this movement and providing them the tools to do so. 

We will also prioritize programs that create measurable impact by reducing and capturing carbon, increasing energy efficiency, creating and increasing access to green jobs, and helping change community behavior so that vulnerable communities can become more resilient and reduce their own carbon footprints.

Despite the magnitude of the climate crisis, less than 2% of all philanthropic dollars are currently spent in the fight against climate change. Often the most innovative solutions don’t get the support they need. So the funding announced today will build on the Cisco Foundation’s approach that drives meaningful impact by supporting early-stage, technology-based solutions with the potential to scale and be sustainable.

Powering an inclusive – and sustainable – future

I talk often about our purpose – to power an inclusive future for all. In order to live up that purpose, we have to combat the rising inequality that comes from climate change. It’s a tragic fact that climate change and poverty are disproportionately intertwined; those most impacted by climate change have the least ability to reverse its course. Combined with the irreversible changes that have come to wildlife and natural habitats, it’s clear that we need to take action.

As a global corporation, we have a role to play. Cisco has been embedding environmental, social, and corporate responsibility into our business practices and products for years.

Reducing emissions

Already, we’ve achieved 100% renewable energy in the U.S., Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, and the UK. We are on track to have electricity generated from renewable sources for at least 85% of our global electricity in 2022 and to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 60% in 2022 (compared to 2007).

Moreover, we are working with suppliers to reduce emissions throughout our supply chain. We believe that our holistic circular economy strategy allows us to transform how we do business, design our products to reduce resource consumption, increase reuse, and change how we and our suppliers operate.

Reducing waste

We build and ship a lot of routers, switches, and phones so, years ago, we decided to rethink how we design our products and packaging for reuse, repair, and resource efficiency. We set the bold goal to design 100% of new Cisco products and packaging to incorporate Circular Design Principles by 2025. We are also working towards delivering our 100% take back pledge made by our CEO Chuck Robbins at the World Economic Forum in 2018.

What does that recycling look like? Some of our IP phones in the 8800 series and select Webex Room Kit Plus are now being made with plastic from our own industrial recycling. Made of 100% post-consumer recycled plastic resin, they will be the first Cisco products to carry a new closed-loop plastic label.

Building more efficient products

Cisco’s products are helping power the energy-efficient smart cities and smart buildings of the future. Our collaboration technology reduces emission-producing travel. And our Cisco products are constantly being improved to become more efficient.

Take our new Silicon One microchip which powers the Cisco 8201 router. It’s the size of a pizza box and replaces equipment that weighed 2,000 pounds and took 10 pallets to ship. The old equipment consumed over 96,000 kWh of electricity per year, about the annual electricity consumption of nine typical U.S. houses in 2019. The Silicon One-powered router, on the other hand, consumes just 3,635 kWh of electricity per year— less than 4% of the energy used by the old equipment.

Looking ahead

We know that our technology and our actions have a role to play sustaining a livable planet and powering a future that is truly inclusive. Our commitment is real – from the funding announced today, to the work with our partners in nonprofits and governments, to the products we innovate and the processes we improve. We must work together to power a future that is as sustainable as it is inclusive.

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