News this week from the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) – “the impacts of global warming are likely to be “severe, pervasive and irreversible”. After a winter in the UK that has seen major storms and rainfall we can expect more incidents of severe weather as we go forward.
Worldwide, the carbon footprint of IT is actually larger than that of the airline industry – and it’s growing. As more and more of the developing world adopt information technology, the carbon emissions generated will increase with it.
There was political news too. Centrica warned that government policy would likely lead to energy shortages in the UK and electrical black-outs. Strangely, this isn’t new. In 2012 the government forecasted a 20% shortfall in electricity forecast for the years 2015-2017. This, they said, was due to a number of factors that would create “a perfect storm”.
- Dirty, coal powered power stations that fail to meet agreed emission targets must close by 2015.
- Existing Magnox nuclear power stations are reaching the end of their life.
- Wind, renewables and AGR nuclear plants will not cover the shortfall.
- Reduced demand due to the recession has delayed the build of new capacity. Even if the building programme is restarted, it is unlikely that any new plants will be online before 2017.
Whatever way you look at it, we must all do whatever we can to reduce our energy usage.
Data Centres continue to grow exponentially and even though the latest servers are more energy efficient, the number deployed is ever-rising as too is the number of desk-top and mobile devices.
In these circumstances is it not incredible that few IT Managers are held accountable for the energy cost of the IT deployed to support the business. Sure, they have initiated hardware rationalisation projects but the outcomes of these projects are measured in cost savings not energy savings.
We must push ‘Green IT’ higher up the strategic agenda. The government has done much to “Green” governmental ICT. The Greening Government ICT strategy is intended to minimise the impact of the UK Government on the environment and reduce both green-house gas emissions and waste in support of the Government’s commitment to achieve a 25% reduction in green-house emissions by 2015.
It’s time IT Manager’s followed this lead and set their own targets for energy reduction and carbon emissions. Highly principled, reputable companies like Unilever do this. Let us all follow suit.