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Business

Corporate network eyes climate and profits

Devoted entrepreneurs have teamed up to help create societies with lower carbon dioxide emissions. Companies say protecting the planet from climate change doesn't have to have negative impact on the bottom line.

"Here in Oslo it's -2 degrees Celsius, it surely is warmer in Berlin," said Fjord IT Chief Executive Helge Gallefoss with a smile on his face. The Norwegian has been among the IT pioneers of his country.

In 1993 he founded his first Internet firm, a platform with an online networking service. Later on he set up an arts shopping portal. Most recently, he's been focusing on green data technology.

"The global IT industry consumes more energy than the whole of Germany already today," Gallefoss said. "In a few years from now, energy use in the sector could be fifty times as high, and just imagine how much carbon dioxide might e emitted in the process!"

Huge amounts of data are being stored on servers that require constant cooling. The higher the outside temperatures, the higher the amount of energy needed for the cooling process.

Google data center in Hamina, Finland (AP Photo/Google)

Google's data center in Hamina is there for a good reason

Cold Scandinavia an ideal location

To lower energy consumption, Google has set up a data center in Finland, while Facebook picked Sweden, the reason being that in Scandinavian countries the colder climate ideal for trimming energy use caused by PC servers.

"Almost all of Norway's energy is generated by hydropower, the costs being two thirds lower than those in Germany," Gallefoss said. His company, Fjord IT, offers companies the ability to store their data in Norway, telling clients exactly what this means in terms of reducing harmful CO2 emissions. Gallefoss said German clients in particular care about this option.

From Oslo to Berlin

Helge Gallefoss CEO of Fjord IT Photo. Fjord IT

Helge Gallefoss claims environmentally friendly doesn't mean less profitable

The Norwegian aims to found a subsidiary in Berlin soon. He's already got a first client, but doesn't want to reveal its name, saying only it's one of the big European media companies. Gallefoss visits Berlin often as he is a member of the "Creating Climate Wealth Central Europe" initiative organized by the Triad communications agency.

"We understand ourselves as a neutral platform stimulating and inspiring our partners and helping them turn their ideas into concrete projects," said Triad Berlin's Head of Cooperation, Stefan Richter. He added that his agency plays a role in inspiring and mediating pilot projects which foster entrepreneurs' awareness of climate protection issues.

Low carbon society

Triad believes in the "low carbon society" which aims to make reduced CO2 emissions a priority without eating into companies' profits. Half of current carbon dioxide emissions could already be avoided today, exploiting existing technology and political frame conditions and doing so in a profitable way.

The agency organizes talks and conferences in central Europe where innovative business models are developed. The spiritual father of the idea was British entrepreneurRichard Branson who called the "Carbon War Room" into being, a Washington-based NGO connecting business people across the globe.

Dirty shipping

Financial service provider Avesco's Oliver Hagedorn knows it's all about implementing good ideas. He's actively participated in the "Creating Climate Wealth" gatherings, attending events from Berlin to Singapore. His focus has been on environmentally friendly shipping.

Oliver Hagedorn of Avesco Photo: Avesco

Oliver Hagedorn has set his sights on fighting emissions from shipping

"Shipping is one of the world's largest CO2 emitters," he said, adding that ships give off more carbon dioxide that airplanes and blaming ship's diesel for the phenomenon. He said the fuel is not only dirty, but also expensive, with diesel accounting for 70 percent of container ships' operating costs. Hagedorn said a regular overhaul and climate-friendly modernization of shipping vessels could easily save up to 20 percent of required diesel volumes. Such an investment would usually pay back within 15 to 18 months, he added.

Climate-friendly investments

Hagedorn said he tells his clients that sort of pro-climate commitment promises higher yields in the long term, with companies seeking new investment opportunities amid high stock values and record-low interest rates.

"It's remarkable how many firms look into issues related to climate protection," he said, adding that during "Creating Climate Wealth" meetings he's learned a lot about new technologies and industrial innovation drives.

When less is more

The plan is to develop an independent Internet platform, a Climate Wealth Portal, in the near future. How to increase earnings without having to spend too much remains a major issue to be addressed for the companies looking to take part in such a portal. Former Costa Rican president and president of the Carbon War Rooms, Jose Maria Figueres, got to the heart of the matter: "There's no planet B."

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