Computer and comms-based carbon emissions fly past aviation industry

IT and communications (ITC) sector in the UK currently has a carbon footprint similar to the aviation industry but will rapidly cruise past poster child for climate change.

A first national survey by environmental charity Global Action Plan, with guidance from the Environmental IT Leadership Team (EILT), has shown that three in five businesses lack support for a sustainable ICT strategy.


The result is that the IT and communications (ITC) sector in the UK currently has a carbon footprint similar to the aviation industry but will rapidly cruise past what EILT calls the poster child for climate change.


On what can be regarded as somewhat worrying, 86% of ICT departments surveyed for the report, ‘An Inefficient Truth', do not know the carbon footprint of their activities and less than a fifth actually see their energy bills. Regulatory mandates for storing more data will likely only worsen this situation.


Other key findings in the survey of CIOs, IT directors and senior decision makers include the fact that nearly two-thirds of UK datacentres have the capacity to support only two years of growth; just over a third of firms are storing data indefinitely due to government policy; two-fifths of servers are underutilised by more than 50%; four-fifths of respondents do not believe their company's data policies are environmentally sustainable.


EILT says that increased efficiencies using proven techniques could lead to rapid and significant carbon savings. IT believes that most ICT professionals are aware of green technology and would like to be involved in sustainability initiatives but they are in great need of support to do so.


Commented Trewin Restorick, director of Global Action Plan and chair of the EILT,  “ICT equipment currently accounts for 3-4% of the world's carbon emissions, and 10% of the UK 's energy bill. The average server, for example, has roughly the same annual carbon footprint as an SUV doing 15 miles-per-gallon. With a carbon footprint now equal to the aviation industry, ICT, and how businesses utilise ICT, will increasingly come under the spotlight as governments seek to achieve carbon-cutting commitments.”

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