Rakuten Optimism, Rakuten’s largest annual business conference, is a Group-wide event that aims to enhance and enrich the extended Rakuten family’s brand, ecosystem and partnerships. Held in Japan since 2019, Rakuten Optimism 2022 was a virtual event held over two days on September 28-29. Some 114,000 people registered to participate, exceeding last year’s count, and the total viewership for the event was over 280,000 views.
The theme, which coincided with the company’s 25th anniversary initiatives, was “Tech & Green: The Future is in Motion.” With a focus on pressing environmental issues and the potential of transformative technology, a wide range of luminaries and industry leaders gathered from Japan and around the world to discuss our rapidly changing world.
This article is a digested version of Rakuten Group Chairman and CEO Mickey Mikitani’s main keynote, which took place on the morning of the first day of the event.
At our Rakuten Optimism conference, we made our theme “Tech & Green.” And in my keynote, I want to make clear our intentions: Rakuten will not just be a participant in the global green movement. We will be a leader.
There is no question that this is necessary. With more than 30,000 employees worldwide, the Rakuten Group is contributing to the generation of even more jobs in Japan and around the world, and we have achieved so many tech and business milestones. At the same time, we must be aware of environmental issues and take action now.
All over the world, climate change is taking place. In Pakistan, as much as one-third of the nation’s land has been struck by devastating floods since June. The number of natural disasters has increased dramatically. Climate change and global warming are issues that are already real, and we can’t afford to lose time in addressing them.
Leveraging our technology and operational expertise, Rakuten will be a leader in this green movement – and here’s how we will pursue this important goal.
Going Carbon Neutral in 2023
This is an ambitious goal for our company and we are already working on making it real. We are improving energy efficiency by reducing our use of fossil fuels and improving the efficiency of electricity use in our mobile network, data centers, offices, sports arenas and other locations.
“Rakuten will not just be a participant in the global green movement. We will be a leader.”Mickey Mikitani, Chairman & CEO, Rakuten Group
We are switching to electricity from renewable sources. Through a combination of on-site electricity generation, long-term power purchase agreements, and renewable energy contracts and certificates, we will build a 100% renewable energy portfolio. We can already point to examples of this in action: Rakuten Group, Inc. achieved 100% renewable energy usage in 2021 and at Rakuten Crimson House West in San Mateo, California, we have installed rooftop solar panels that have produced part of the office’s electricity needs since 2020.
For fossil fuel-derived energy requirements that will be difficult to replace in the near future, we will leverage carbon credits to offset our CO2 emissions. I hope that will end up being a smaller part of our efforts.
To put this in perhaps more familiar terms, at present, the Rakuten Group puts out CO2 emissions equivalent to 50~60,000 average households. By making more efficient usage of energy and switching to renewable energy, we are pledging to achieve carbon neutrality, or net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, from Rakuten Group business operations.
Unlocking energy efficiency in telecom
Today, the telecommunication industry accounts for 3% of global energy consumption and this is set to increase as total data traffic and the number of users and connected devices continue to grow. The industry needs to act, and I am proud to say Rakuten Mobile and Rakuten Symphony are active in this area.
Rakuten Mobile is committed to introducing renewable energy sources for our base stations. Rakuten Symphony is working on using its artificial intelligence (AI) platform and operational data to optimize energy consumption. Currently, most computing in mobile networks runs at full speed even if there is no activity in that part of the network. This is the equivalent of leaving your home lights on in case somebody wants to come inside. By analyzing the total system architecture to reduce energy consumption by varying the speed of our processors, we saw the ability to save over 30% while still maintaining network quality of service.
Leveraging the popular Rakuten Points loyalty program to encourage consumers to go green in their purchasing
Customers want to buy environmentally-friendly products. Rakuten is meeting this demand by providing new opportunities and incentives in our market-leading loyalty points program.
We are proud to be a company selected by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment’s “Green Life Point” Promotion Project for Food and Living, and we have begun offering Rakuten Points and coupons for eco-friendly actions. Shoppers will receive points for purchasing eco-friendly products such as energy-efficient appliances, while other Rakuten services will provide eco-friendly options such as coupons that can be used at eco-friendly destinations.
These are only a few of the efforts already underway in our ambitious process. We cannot afford to view green as a side project. We consider our green efforts on par with our other “moonshot” efforts such as the launching of our marketplace 26 years ago and more recently, our entrance into the mobile industry.
This is a big challenge and one we intend to take on with the same commitment to innovation and empowerment that we bring to every aspect of our business.