Case Study

Global technology provider commits to near-term SBTi-aligned target across all three scopes

Workers in an information technology company's supply chain packaging up materials.
Energy & Climate Consulting
Energy & Climate Consulting

Executive Summary

CDW, a leading multi-brand provider of information technology solutions, partnered with 3Degrees to further its climate journey by tackling the complexity of its scope 3 measurement and setting an ambitious climate target. The teams navigated a number of complexities, from collecting data across an intricate supply chain, to preparing for differing international regulations, to aligning with varying stakeholder requests.

3Degrees helped CDW achieve progress across four primary projects:

  1. Advancing CDW’s scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) measurements from a spend-based screening to a more comprehensive inventory of value chain emissions that served as a baseline measurement
  2. Creating an internal Climate Task Force that comprises a global, cross-functional leadership team that aided decarbonization strategy and planning, including development of a roadmap to reach its proposed climate target
  3. Gaining executive approval to commit to an ambitious near-term climate target aligned with Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi)
  4. Building internal buy-in for accelerated climate action through education and engagement, resulting in global alignment

Read the full case study below.



As an international provider of information technology solutions, CDW has a complex greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint. The complexity stems from CDW’s extensive product suite, which includes a variety of hardware, software, and services, each that accumulates its own set of intricate supply chain emissions upstream. Plus, the organization’s emissions footprint spans across the globe due to having customers and products across many countries.

The organization had begun to make progress in its journey to take effective action on climate change, including measuring its scope 1 and 2 emissions. However, given that CDW’s business is centered around its extensive value chain and the majority of its emissions are concentrated in scope 3 categories, quantifying its scope 3 emissions proved to be much more difficult.

CDW also wished to move from measurement to action by using the footprint as a baseline from which to set an emission reduction target and align this climate target with industry best practices, varying climate regulations, and outside stakeholder expectations.

CDW’s global ESG leadership team partnered with 3Degrees teams in the US and Europe to address the complexity of scope 3 measurement, set an ambitious climate target, and expand its climate action to cover its entire global footprint.



CDW was committed to working closely with their partners and customers to manage its largest portion of emissions – scope 3 emissions. Because the first step to managing emissions is measuring them, this requires identifying and engaging the right data owners, providing education on what information is needed and why, and developing a plan to improve data quality over time.

The next step to managing their scope 3 emissions was to set a goal and make a reduction plan. CDW has a unique position within the supply chain as a central connecting link between their partner ecosystem. They had begun to receive requests from their various partners and customers who were also making progress on their climate journeys and looking to CDW to take these steps with them. Understanding their connective role in the supply chain, CDW knew they must work closely with its stakeholders to achieve alignment on its goals, which would ultimately result in collective success.

The final step and challenge CDW would surmount was attaining global alignment on its proposed climate goal and strategy. This involved gaining buy-in across internal leadership to prioritize climate action, while also accommodating various regulations and frameworks across geographies to ensure global coordination and inclusion in formulating the climate program.


How We Helped



In the first year, the 3Degrees team worked with CDW to gather the necessary high-level data to complete a scope 3 screen. These easy-to-collect but less precise data inputs served as a starting point for measurement. The initial screening allowed 3Degrees to identify CDW’s emission hotspots. The following year, CDW focused on those high emission categories for gathering harder-to-collect but more granular data. Specfically, the teams worked together to engage internal and external data owners to identify and incorporate product and supplier data. For example, CDW leveraged its strong relationship with a shipping partner to collaborate and obtain activity level transportation data, which 3Degrees was able to tie directly to CDW’s activities to enhance the accuracy of its measurements.These refinements highlight the value of CDW’s partner relationships and their close collaboration on this journey.

With the completed scope 3 inventory, CDW could now use its total carbon footprint as a baseline for target-setting and emissions reduction projects.



While CDW had already laid some groundwork for setting a climate target, in order to drive a global climate strategy and formalize its commitment to action, CDW worked with 3Degrees to identify a group of global, cross-functional leaders to be a part of CDW’s Climate Task Force. This group of internal stakeholders would help inform CDW’s climate goal by providing input on possible decarbonization strategies, helping document and quantify the impact of actions CDW was already taking, and collecting information to support modeling for various emission scenarios.

In order to prepare the Climate Task Force for this work, 3Degrees developed and presented educational presentations, sent customized handouts, and held focus groups with these key business unit leaders. This resulted in early buy-in, engagement throughout, and ultimately executive approval from CDW’s leadership.

3Degrees presented various credible climate target options based on the current climate action landscape, benchmarking CDW against its partners, customers, and competitors. With input and support from the Climate Task Force, 3Degrees provided a recommendation for an ambitious yet achievable climate goal. This led CDW to commit to a near-term target aligned with Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) across all scopes — including a scope 3 target that is made up of both supplier engagement and absolute reduction targets. Given that CDW’s business relies heavily on its deep relationships with key partners, the company will play a leading role in encouraging climate action throughout its supply chain by working with suppliers to set and achieve SBTs.

CDW will continue to leverage the Climate Task Force going forward to coordinate emission reduction efforts thereby establishing the basis of a governance structure that supports the organization’s overall decarbonization.



As a global organization, CDW is part of a large ecosystem of customers and partners worldwide which requires proactive engagement with its supply chain to align on sustainability goals and objectives. While CDW already had strong relationships with its partners, 3Degrees supported further engagement by applying a climate-specific lens.

First, to achieve this alignment, CDW would need to consider the global aspect of its business and the relevant regulations and frameworks it would be subject to. To accelerate this, 3Degrees supported CDW in reviewing regulations in its key geographies to confirm that its climate action would meet existing and future requirements. CDW’s Climate Task Force included country-specific teams that were crucial in supporting this process.  Additionally, CDW needed to consider that many of its partners and customers had also set their own goals that would affect CDW. For this, CDW relied on the strength of its existing relationships with supply chain partners to understand expectations. 3Degrees helped CDW collect and assess these various inputs in order to verify the inclusivity of its climate goal and thoughtfully construct a plan that would build upon the work of its partners.

By driving these conversations and ensuring alignment early, CDW can move forward with its global climate goal knowing that it has the support of its key stakeholders. In order to achieve its near-term targets, CDW will be working in step with its partners to reduce emissions across its supply chain to drive global decarbonization.

“Given the complexities of climate issues, 3Degrees’ approach of first educating our organization and making deliverables easy to understand by our coworkers in various business units and organizational levels has provided us a solid foundation for decision making. We appreciate their ability to combine climate science, a rapidly evolving regulatory environment, stakeholder expectations, and our company’s business plans as we set our climate reduction targets and conduct risk assessments.”


Information technology employee walking through data centers.


  • Creation of a Climate Task Force to include the perspectives of individuals throughout the entire organization
  • Comprehensive scope 3 inventory that incorporates primary data and helps inform reduction decisions
  • Commitment to a near-term target in line with climate science with the SBTi with three distinct parts*:
    • Reduction in absolute scopes 1 and 2 GHG emissions
    • Supplier engagement goal in one scope 3 category
    • Reduction in total scope 3 emissions from remaining categories
  • Alignment with industry best practices, forthcoming regulations, and value chain partners
  • Detailed roadmap to reach near-term SBTi-aligned targets

CDW continues on its sustainability journey, partnering with 3Degrees on other initiatives including climate risk assessment, renewable energy strategy,and implementing a sustainability software platform in an effort to reach its ambitious targets.

*CDW is in the process of validating its target with SBTi.