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Dell claims to be carbon-neutral

The company says it has met its target of becoming carbon-neutral five months early, but some industry watchers are skeptical.

Dell has claimed it is now officially a carbon-neutral company--five months ahead of its own projected schedule.

Dell green PC
Dell released this ultra-small green consumer desktop PC, called the Studio Hybrid, in July. Dell

The target was apparently met through improved energy efficiency at Dell's own facilities, combined with "green" electricity purchases and investments in wind power in the U.S., China, and India, totaling 645 million kilowatt-hours and creating savings of 400,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Dell has invested $3 billion annually in green energy, and its consumption of green energy has increased almost tenfold to 116 million kWh in four years.

Dane Parker, Dell's global environment, health, and safety director, said the achievement reflects a long-established policy at Dell of saving energy, recycling, and other green practices.

Parker hailed the meeting of the target as an achievement that is "a major step forward in our commitment to become the greenest technology company on the planet and establishes our leadership position for others in the industry and all other industries across the globe."

He added: "The way energy costs are, they are just not sustainable, so, for business to be competitive in the future, we need constant supplies of green energy, and so we are trying to enable that everywhere we can globally."

But Dell's fanfare announcement was met with skepticism in some quarters. Clive Longbottom, of business and IT analyst firm Quocirca said: "It really worries me when companies claim they have achieved carbon neutrality, when it's really not possible."

"You have to question whether they have taken all their workers' commuting into consideration, and the materials (involved) in making a computer, going all the way back to zinc mining."

Longbottom continued: "Carbon neutrality is a large amount of greenwash. Computer companies should be focusing on the developments made in recent years in the reduction of harmful material inside the computers, and reduction in the power that computers use. With these high claims, companies are setting themselves up to be knocked back down again."

In addition, Dell also unveiled its partnership with Conservation International to preserve 591,000 acres of rain forest in Madagascar. It is hoped the project will prevent 500,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere over the next five years.

The project will also protect the habitat of two of the world's rarest primates, found only in Madagascar.

Toby Jansen Smith of Conservation International welcomed the partnership with Dell and highlighted the importance of the project in combating climate change.

He said: "Tropical deforestation accounts for 20 percent of greenhouse emissions--much more than cars, trucks, and planes combined."

Neil Vowles of Silicon.com reported from London.