Semiconductor giant Intel said Wednesday that it would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2040 to decrease the firm’s contributions to climate change.
Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) said it would boost its energy efficiency and lower the carbon footprint of its products in the years to come, starting with interim goals, including spending $300 million to improve energy conservation at existing facilities, building new factories at U.S. Green Building Council LEED standards and switching to 100% renewable electricity across global operations by 2030.
Semiconductors are essential components in most modern electronics, but making chips is highly energy intensive and thus harmful to the environment. Intel contributed 2.88 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) pollution in 2020, based on its direct emissions and energy usages, also known as Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.
“The impact of climate change is an urgent global threat,” Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said in a statement. “Protecting our planet demands immediate action and fresh thinking about how the world operates. As one of the world’s leading semiconductor design and manufacturing companies, Intel is in a unique position to make a difference not only in our own operations, but in a way that makes it easier for customers, partners and our whole value chain to take meaningful action too.”
Intel’s pledged changes are wide-ranging, covering everything from factory construction down to the layout of its microprocessors. For example, the company said it would use bio-based printed circuit boards to help reduce electronic waste as well as change the way its data centers are built and cooled.
The company also said it plans to address the emissions from its logistics and supply chain, also known as Scope 3 emissions, by working with suppliers and industry partners to reduce their emissions as well. Intel said it would use credible carbon offsets to hit these goals only if other options are exhausted.
Intel is one of the Valley’s largest employers, with 12,000 workers at its largest plant in Chandler.
Other semiconductor companies have made similar pledges in recent months. Phoenix-based Onsemi said it would reach net-zero emissions in August while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., one of Intel’s biggest rivals, said back in September that it would achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
TSMC, Intel and Samsung are the largest semiconductor firms in the world, and their global operations produce a massive amount of pollution. TSMC reported contributing 9.9 million metric tons of Scope 1 and Scope 2 CO2e in 2020, while Samsung reported generating more than 14.8 million tons.
For context, Phoenix-based Republic Services created 13.4 million tons of CO2e in 2020, SRP created 13.4 million tons in its fiscal year 2021 and Valley mining giant Freeport-McMoran generated 7.1 million tons in 2020.
Intel’s announcement comes weeks after U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said humanity is “firmly on track toward an unlivable world” following the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2022 report earlier this year.
Register for the Council’s upcoming Phoenix and Tucson tech events and Optics Valley optics + photonics events.