February 21, 2008, 10:32 AM — Industry needs to team up with cities to battle climate change, Cisco
Systems Chairman and CEO John Chambers told local government leaders on
Saying his views had changed from just five or six years ago, the head of the
world's largest network builder cozied up to officials from municipalities around
the world at the Connected
Urban Development Global Conference in San Francisco.
"It is hugely important to have supportive government," Chambers
The conference, co-hosted by Cisco and the city and county of San Francisco,
focused on what cities can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage
their residents to do the same. As an example of what might help, the city unveiled
a "green" bus equipped with Wi-Fi and with screens that can tell riders
where they are, when they'll reach their destination and how much they're reducing
their greenhouse gases by taking the bus. That will encourage them to ride more
often, the city said. Officials from Seoul also discussed traffic-reduction
initiatives at the conference, and Amsterdam representatives talked about an
efficiency standard for data centers.
Cities should play the key role in tackling climate change because they consume
75 percent of the world's energy and produce 80 percent of its emissions, Chambers
Rather than coming up with solutions one by one, pioneering cities should work
with each other and private industry to create a "replicable blueprint"
for making urban centers friendlier to the environment, Chambers said. Cisco's
Connected Urban Development initiative will start with a few cities, including
the three represented at the conference, and deliver knowledge and best practices
to many more cities over time, he said. He called for cities to tap into social-networking
technology -- which Cisco has been rapidly adding to its portfolio -- to bring
together parties that traditionally haven't worked together.
Though it wasn't on display at the conference, Cisco's Telepresence high-definition
virtual meeting technology played a key role in Chambers' speech. Cisco has
used Telepresence units for 75,000 meetings since its debut just over a year
ago, and in the process has slashed travel, helping to cut Cisco's annual greenhouse
gas emissions per employee by 10 percent, Chambers said. One air trip produces
the same emissions as 98 Telepresence sessions, he said. Meanwhile, Chambers
said, he was able to slash the company's budget by US$150 million thanks to
the new technology.
"Corporate social responsibility is just plain good for business,"