ARTICLE: Raconteur/The Times – Green IT can champion cuts in carbon emissions

Improving systems’ efficiency and using renewable energy in IT are just two ways of cutting carbon emissions

Information technology (IT) infrastructure and services permeate every function and department of a business. This means the chief information officer (CIO) is in a unique position to champion and drive sustainability within an organisation. Without efficiency measures, the information and communications technology (ICT) sector could account for 20 per cent of electricity demand by 2025 and 5.5 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions, according to the 2017 Total Consumer Power Consumption Forecast.

Yet, at nearly every step of the value chain, from procurement to end of life, there are opportunities to implement so-called “green IT” initiatives that will reduce a company’s carbon footprint.

In fact, a Global E-Sustainability Initiative report, SMARTer 2030, says ICT has the potential to create a 20 per cent reduction in global CO2 by 2030. If achieved, this will keep emissions at 2015 levels.

What companies can do to cut down their carbon emissions

Many leading IT firms, including Microsoft, Google, BT and AT&T, have already set ambitious targets to reduce their environmental impact.

According to James Robey, global head of corporate sustainability at consultancy firm Capgemini, a CIO can address sustainability on two fronts by the operational impacts of their own IT infrastructure and by using technology to improve the efficiency of a company’s overall operations.

“Thinking about your internal IT estate, where is the waste? Could you shift away from inefficient software platforms that require larger, more powerful computers and house your processors using less energy?” asks Mr Robey.

He adds that migrating off dedicated servers on to the cloud and shared infrastructure can reduce a system’s carbon emissions by between 50 and 70 per cent.