Xavier Verne

Xavier Verne

Digital Sustainability Manager, SNCF
Impact report 2022/2023

You wrote part of the Shift report on "digital sobriety": what are the 3 key actions that must be implemented quickly?

  • Carry out a carbon audit, including assessing indirect emissions ("scope 3") and share it as widely as possible, in a transparent manner, both internally and externally. This will allow you to quickly identify the most effective drivers in order to start work without waiting for high-precision measurement, which is unattainable given the current state of data repositories.
  • Ask yourself what the actual needs are and only invest in what is of value. For example, storing "all the data" in a digital project just in case constitutes, in fact, a waste of resources in datacenters (storage, CPU, power).
  • Press for extending the service life and reducing the number of terminals for its users in order to drastically reduce CO2 impacts and associated resources: solutions are structuring themselves, whether based on BYOD, such as having only one cell phone in one's pocket, or through stronger sustainability requirements. It is up to the users and the government to demand that a computer last as long as a washing machine.

What is, in your opinion, a responsible company?

It is a company that recognizes that we live on a finite planet, and that resources are also finite. And that it must contribute to the Paris Climate Agreement to limit the global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius. Every day the news underlines the urgent need for action.

It is a company that produces increasingly transparent CSR reports, but also reports on objectives that have not been met, and shares the difficulties encountered, in short, in a language of truth, avoiding exaggerating the environmental benefits derived from issues that are at the peripheral to the problem and not at its core. This is not the historical CSR culture.

​​​How must digital become part of the circular economy?

Our PCs and smartphones could well have a service life of 10 to 20 years if they had been designed for that from the word go. The key is eco-design, and legal guarantees that they will be updated, and parts supplied for repair for at least 7 to 10 years.

A whole network of small repair shops can be set up, and thus put an end to technical and psychological obsolescence.

“Devices as a service" models are possible, provided they are economically viable.

​​​​​​​What criteria must your vendors and partners implement to make progress in that field?

From an SNCF standpoint, there are three:

  • Adopting a proactive stance on climate change by seriously assessing its impact: Econocom and other players are showing the way!  This can act as a vehicle for a healthier and potentially more sustainable relationship when it comes to implementing sobriety initiatives over time.
  • Shifting the paradigm: volume-based business models are at the heart of the problem: volume of terminals sold, volume of data, bandwidth, number of licenses. It is up to vendors to come up with offers that do not promote further consumption. It is a matter of selling less, but better products, rather than more!
  • Enabling customers to implement sobriety strategies by providing evidence and metrics that enable them to see immediately where major efforts must be made. Using a volume-based business model does not allow for this! This involves a complete change of posture and some vendors have understood this by taking the lead. They will have a head start.
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