Sustainability Panel at SPIE ALP

G. Dan Hutcheson
G. Dan Hutcheson
The Chip Insider®

Sustainability Panel at SPIE ALP: Why me? Which was my first question when they asked me to run this panel. As you know, until recently, I have considered sustainability to be a “boy scout” issue: something nice to do, but unlikely to be executed on because of the economics involved. Sustainability issues are what economists refer to as externalities: something society pays for, but the responsible parties involved do not. The only real solution to these issues is government regulation which is why the G is in ESG, which is for Environment, Safety, and Government. Government is involved in all three, except for when someone tries to squeeze sustainability into the S. The problem with sustainability is it’s a global problem and there’s no global government…

The mess is caused by something described as “The Tragedy of the Commons.” You don’t need to be an economist to understand the concept: There’s always someone who leaves their dishes in the sink, expecting someone else to clean them… It’s also why one sees net-zero by 20X0 commitments — no one wants to deal with cleaning the dishes today because it hits next quarter’s earnings. So you can see why I couldn’t get excited about doing the panel, which was in part why they asked me.

In researching it, I ran into the surprise I wrote about in the February 24th issue: OEMs and hyperverticals started to use carbon footprint in addition to price in determining which chips to buy. Then I discovered Scotten Jones of TechInsights IC Knowledge had already put carbon footprints into his cost models. That meant the OEMs and hyperverticals could take Scotten’s models and calculate the exact carbon footprint of any chip, wafer, process, or fab from the bottom up on a layer-by-layer basis. So not only were OEMs and hyperverticals using carbon footprints to make chip selections, they had the tools to do it.

With carbon footprints a part of the price, maybe a new form of ‘government’ was emerging to make executives not leave their dirty dishes in the sink. Digging deeper, I found that new form of ‘government’ was ESG and sustainability funds… it inverts Upton Sinclair’s quip that, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” This is because investments by sustainability funds increase a stock’s value... Thus, it is no longer a Tragedy of the Commons failure.

The SPIE panelists did conclude that the pressure to fix sustainability was coming from the top and would be projected down into the supply chain because most emissions by OEMs and hyperverticals are Scope 3. The panel included: Aki Sekiguchi who is a Fellow in TEL’s Corporate Innovation Division, Chris Jones who is Edwards Vacuum’ Environmental Solutions Business Development Manager, Emily Gallagher who is a principal member of imec’s technical staff, John Cahill who is Senior Director of Operations and NPI Program Management at ASML Cymer; Mark Merrill who is VP of Corporate Development from Lam Research, and Ryan Russell who is corporate vice president and co-general manager of Logic Technology Development and Intel. Here’s some of each what they had to say …

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“When everything seems to be going against you … remember that the airplane takes off against the wind” — Henry Ford

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