Green IT – Back on the Agenda?

It’s a funny old world certainly as far as coincidences go.

Coincidence Number 1

I was delivering a Green IT course last week and had just completed the section on “Greenwash” when the VW (and then Audi) emissions scandal brokeon the television news. It turns out that millions of motorists have been driving cars with much higher levels of emission than they had been led to believe would be produced.

Coincidence Number 2

Only days later, Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, at a very prestigious event at Lloyds of London, gave a stark warning that climate change poses a huge risk to global stability. He said the challenges currently posed by climate change “pale in significance compared with what might come” and that this generation had little incentive to avert future problems. Evidence is mounting, he claimed of man’s role in climate change.

Looking to the future he went on to say that the after-effects of such disasters were likely to grow worse – forecasting that the challenges currently posed by climate change pale in significance compared with what might come with major global impacts on property, migration and political stability, as well as food and water security.

This, of course, contrasts starkly with the Conservative governments back-pedalling on its carbon reduction commitments – axing or watering down a host of green policies. David Cameron is being urged, by President Obama to step up the UK’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions and to follow the US lead which requires each of the 50 states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, with an overall aim of reducing power sector emissions by 32 per cent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.

Perversely the UK government warned, in 2012, there would be 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.

Coincidence Number 3

Chancellor George Osborne has been touring China try to attract Chinese partners to help build Britain’s first nuclear reactor in over twenty years. Even so this is not likely to be on stream until at least 2025.

Whatever way you look at it, we must all do whatever we can to reduce our energy usage.

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.

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 and savings or carbon reduction. We must push ‘Green IT’ higher up the strategic agenda.

Let’s hope that the latest breaking stories will rekindle the interest in running and managing greener IT departments and that I will welcome many more students on our Green IT course Details here – particularly as we are now one of the very few organisation that offers it.

Stuart Sawle

Sysop

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