Earth Day marks its 50th anniversary this year. Since 1970 people and organisations concerned with planetary health have come together and made their voices heard. The theme for this year is “climate action”. Marking 50 years of growing awareness and participation with a call to action was going to be a strong statement of intent to open the new decade.

For this new decade, mere “climate change” has been escalated to “climate crisis” in the public discourse. Orchestrating action globally has been fuelled by grassroots efforts finding a focal point in Greta Thunberg. And at the opposite end of the spectrum was the world’s largest company, Microsoft, with a game-changing announcement promising to accelerate from carbon neutral to net zero emissions. And even going one step further and also removing enough CO2 to wipe out all their historic emissions back to 1975, their company formation year. Many global companies followed with their own announcements pledging net zero status for themselves and even throughout their supply chains.

2020 promised to build momentum as the opening sentence in a decade of tangible climate action. 2020 would conclude with COP26, the 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference located in Glasgow, UK.

All of this effort and attention was understandably overshadowed in the public consciousness from early March with a growing awareness of a novel coronavirus, COVID-19. With this being declared as a global pandemic, the climate crisis has been removed from the front pages, at least for now.

While the planet gets an unexpected chance to breathe, we also have a pause to consider our consumption patterns and priorities. Do we recognise that true sustainability and planetary health do not respect short term human-scale pandemics? And so the argument is being made that green criteria must be at the front and centre for allocating economic recovery stimulus investments.

On a more modest scale what is Hydro66 doing to respect Earth Day, not just on April 22nd 2020 but for the future. We see four important principles or programmes for us to drive the clean climate agenda:

  1. We must be green, not simply buy green. That means making the right strategic decisions about data center site selection. Not business as usual expedience, but actually thinking about sustainable power at the point of generation, not green tariffs and Power Purchase Agreements after the fact.

  2. We must strive to outperform on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – particularly in efficient use of power, of water and of land. Class-leading Power Usage Effectiveness, Water Usage Effectiveness and clever land use must be built in, not bolted on. We have to look for ways to implement the so-called triple bottom line of People, Planet and Profit in that order. We expect to announce a new partnership initiative in this regard soon.

  3. We must minimize waste and re-use or recycle where possible. The circular economy is a new way to describe offering produced goods a second life. IT equipment is an area ripe for adding value and disrupting the status quo of never-ending growth in quarterly sales targets by the established vendors. We expect to announce a new partnership initiative in this regard soon.

  4. The environmental cost and waste associated with legacy data centers run at a small scale is rapidly being eliminated by large data centers offering cloud computing services. Hydro66 recognises the need for a new green deal when it comes to cloud infrastructure – one where companies can utilise the benefits of cloud services with a clear focus on the environment built in from the ground level data center and up. Watch this space for developments on this project.

In conclusion, we at Hydro66 are as excited for the prospects for a new green agenda through the 2020’s as we were pre-COVID-19. This major pandemic provides a pause for fresh consideration on what is really important. Yes, we will consume ever more digital resources as a society, but it doesn’t have to cost the earth.

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Paul Morrison

About Paul Morrison

Paul is a high-tech and IT business development executive with 20+ years commercial experience, currently working as CCO for Hydro66. Paul has worked in corporate and business development roles for Easynet, Sky and Fox Interactive Media. Paul co-founded Hydro66 in 2014.