QTS Data Centers: The Better Climate Challenge

Mar 04, 2022 | Posted by MadalineDunn

The IPCC'S most recent report on climate change has once again warned that our ecosystem is at a crisis point, and without significant and real action, the situation will only worsen. Coinciding with the release of the IPCC report, QTS and Sabey announced they have joined the DOE's Better Climate Challenge, through which companies are pledging to halve their emissions by 2030. This initiative joins the likes of the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact, and The Climate Pledge. However, with recent reports showing that the data center industry is failing to keep up with its promises, is this most recent initiative, backed by the US Department of Energy (DOE), and those like it enough?

The IPCC's report is the work of 1000 physical and social scientists following years of research and was unanimously approved by the governments of 195 nations. It has brought to the forefront  some deeply concerning figures, including that nearly half the world's population (3.3 billion to 3.6 billion people) are currently situated in areas deemed "highly vulnerable" to climate change, where water and food scarcity is rife. Those in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Central and South America, small island developing states (SIDS) and the Arctic are predicted to be affected the worst. Further to this, the report outlined that one in three people are currently exposed to what it called 'deadly heat stress,' and by the end of the century, this is projected to jump to between 50% to 75%. Likewise, rising temperatures coupled with rainfall are exacerbating the spread of disease, in people, crops, livestock and wildlife. Moreover, the report outlined that although adaptation efforts are being made on a wider scale, efforts need to be ramped up, and quickly. It stressed that we have a "brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity" to secure a liveable and sustainable future for everyone.

So, what exactly is the DOE's Better Climate Challenge? Well, according to the DOE, it's a "new effort" that challenges organizations (of which there are 90 sponsors so far) to set ambitious, portfolio-wide GHG emission reduction goals. Those who are part of the initiative have ten years to cut their emissions without the use of offsets. The DOE has outlined that it will provide "technical assistance" and convene "peer-to-peer exchanges" to facilitate solution sharing to make this a reality. According to U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, with the assistance of the DOE, the initiative will lead to meaningful and measurable emissions reductions, which she said will "save American businesses billions of dollars, create good-paying jobs, and drive innovation that strengthens the entire U.S. economy." 

From the data center industry, both QTS and Sabey Data Centers have joined, with the latter, pledging to reduce its GHG emissions by 50% across its 3.8 million-square-foot portfolio. The company has also shared that it has internal goals to "reduce emissions even further" and is planning to reduce all scope 1 and scope 2 emissions by either 2029, or before. It is reportedly "investing in renewable energy projects, collaborating with utilities on green power programs, and researching and implementing carbon-neutral technologies" to make real change to its operations. QTS has made a similar pledge to reduce its GHG emissions by 50% over the next ten years from a 2022 baseline. To achieve this, it has said it will introduce sustainability and energy-saving initiatives across its entire portfolio.