COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Although construction has yet to begin, Intel’s $20 billion computer chip factory outside Columbus will join all of the company’s global operations in having net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, Intel announced Wednesday.
The California company said it will reach carbon neutrality by increasing energy efficiency and lowering the carbon footprint of its products. That includes 100 percent renewable energy use in all its operations; investing $300 million toward energy conservation at Intel facilities; and developing new pollution abatement equipment.
“The impact of climate change is an urgent global threat,” Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said in a statement announcing the plans. “Protecting our planet demands immediate action and fresh thinking about how the world operates.”
Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are the driving force of climate change by trapping heat in the atmosphere. The world’s leading scientists predict global warming will have destructive worldwide effects if not significantly curbed in the coming decades.
Rising sea levels due to melting polar ice; more extreme hurricanes and storms due to warmer oceans and atmosphere; and harsher heatwaves and wildfires are just a few of the consequences predicted.
Ohio is already seeing warmer summers, worse algae blooms and stronger rainstorms as global temperatures warm.
In 2015, the U.S. and other governments pledged to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7°F), but a United Nations report announced last week found broken promises are pushing humanity from that goal.
“Limiting warming to 1.5°C requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest and be reduced by 43 percent by 2030,” the report’s co-chair told the Associated Press.
Intel’s green commitments in Ohio
Computer chip manufacturing is one of the world’s most energy-intensive businesses. Greenhouse emissions from Intel semiconductor plants in the western U.S., especially in Oregon and New Mexico, have drawn ire from environmental groups.
“Hundreds of thousands of tons of greenhouse gases per year come from these facilities, mostly from boilers,” Seth Woolley, founder of Portland Clean Air, a non-profit that studies emissions in and around the Oregon city, told NBC4 last month.
Intel already announced that its Ohio semiconductor facility — planned to be one of the world’s largest when it opens in 2025 — will have green practices like recycling water and diverting waste from landfills.
Although “100% renewable energy” is planned, Intel will achieve that number in part through buying renewable energy credits.
Carbon credits allow companies without enough local green power to purchase renewable energy elsewhere and effectively offset their carbon emissions. Just 3 percent of Ohio’s electric grid is powered by clean sources like wind and solar, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
In the company’s Wednesday announcement, Intel said its cumulative greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade would be “nearly 75 percent lower than they would have been” without its green actions already in place.