Public sector computer systems need to become greener and more efficient, the government has said.
Speaking at the fourth European Ministerial e-Government Conference in Lisbon this week, Cabinet Office minister Gillian Merron said the UK Chief Information Officer's Council should reduce the carbon footprint of government computers and improve the sustainability of public sector IT.
Merron said, "Figures from industry suggest that worldwide information technology is responsible for about 1 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions each year - that is between 2% and 4% of global energy.
She said, "The government is by far the biggest user of IT in the UK, spending around £12bn a year. We have a responsibility to set a positive example on the environment, so I am asking our IT leaders to work with industry to find new ways to improve the sustainability of government computer systems."
Merron said, "This does not just mean reducing the amount of electricity they use, but also looking at how they can be designed and built in ways that consume fewer materials and which make recycling easier."
John Suffolk, the Government's chief information officer, said, "There is real potential to deliver more sustainable IT that also costs less and provides better results for users. New technologies can help reduce energy consumption and allow more flexible working."
The Chief Information Officer's Council will now work with the Information Age Partnership to take a systematic look at how government can work with the industry to put public sector IT on to a more sustainable footing.
The Information Age Partnership brings together leading IT firms and trade bodies to tackle IT industry issues.
The pair will publish their initial report in 2008.