Dell plans to make its global operations carbon neutral by the end of 2008, earlier than previously thought.

"Leadership starts at home, which is why we are going carbon neutral, but this should only be the beginning of building long-term partnerships with customers, stakeholders and suppliers of all sizes to team up and make a difference for the Earth we all share," said Michael Dell, the company's chairman and CEO, in a statement.

The company said it will take inventory of its total greenhouse gas emissions, then develop plans to reduce and eliminate those emissions, including becoming energy efficient and purchasing more renewable power.

The computer maker also urged its peers to join in its efforts to become carbon neutral.

The company also announced a new programme called "Plant a Forest for Me," to encourage companies to join with Dell to plant millions of trees to reforest the planet. The step is a continuation of the consumer "Plant a Tree for Me" programme.

The founding members of Plant a Forest for Me include ABN AMRO, Advanced Micro Devices, Ask.com, Salesforce.com and WellPoint, all of which have committed to offsetting part of their carbon output by buying trees for Plant a Forest. Also, Dell has teamed with two non-profit organisations, The Conservation Fund and Carbonfund, on its tree-planting programme.

"Dell's commitment to carbon neutrality in its operations primarily involves emissions impacts created by electricity use and facility heating and cooling," the company said.

Dell said it will also offset the effect on emissions caused by employee business travel. Dell plans to offset its carbon emissions, in part, by investing in renewable energy sources such as wind, where it is available and economically feasible.

Last week, Dell announced an online recycling programme that enables small US businesses to manage, return and track their equipment.