IT needs to act now on climate change

Our industry should take lead on the environment

Hot on the heels of the Stern Review, the Queen's Speech addressed the threat of climate change. It introduced a statute to reduce carbon emissions by 60% by 2050, along with interim targets.

Alongside plans for an independent Carbon Committee, the changes continue to strengthen the UK's push for changes at home and liberalisation of the European market.

Positively heralding the need for further accountability and measurement of energy consumption by UK businesses, these targets will undoubtedly impact all industries. Hopefully they will ensure companies will not be given a choice when it comes to complying with climate change regulations.

What is clear is that these changes represent an opportunity for the IT industry to step up to the mark and deliver the social and business change required to protect the environment.

Making a difference

Climate change is one area where IT can really make a difference. It can drive change by reducing the environmental footprint and improving the economic stability of UK firms.

IT can offer the diversity and flexibility required to encourage businesses to better exploit the environmental benefits of remote working, offering business benefits including increased productivity, as well as reducing the impact of traffic congestion and pollution on the environment.

Yet at the same time it poses some of the greatest threats to the environment, in terms of equipment disposal and energy consumption. The industry has a duty to recognise these threats and recognise the need for significant R&D investment in low carbon technologies and virtual ways of working, while helping its customers make smarter, more energy conscious decisions.

Conserving energy

UK businesses need to work together to factor energy consumption into every procurement decision, from the stationery order to a PC overhaul.

Moving forward on climate change requires businesses and governments to work together. Climate change is both a threat and an opportunity for organisations to play an active role in the environment.

Alongside the targets and measurements imposed by the government, creative incentives need to be put in place to change behaviour. We want to work with the government to respond to the targets set, and look forward to meeting the chancellor to discuss this later in the year. Policy leadership is not only important for the economic opportunities it will create, but also for helping to catalyse international action on climate change.

We have the ability to make a very real difference and have a duty to future generations to implement simple solutions to increase energy efficiency and maximise the opportunities presented by new technology.

It is the responsibility of the IT industry and the wider UK business community to act now before it is too late.

Richard Barrington is a member of the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change and head of public policy at Sun Microsystems

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