In a world first, the UK Government last week became the first government to announce plans to slash the carbon footprint of its computer systems. While voluntary guidance is provided to Australian government buyers, there have been no move here towards mandatory requirements in IT procurement or management.
With ICT said to be responsible for up to 20 per cent of carbon emissions generated by Government offices (around 460,000 tonnes a year) the UK Government announced a plan to make energy consumption of ICT carbon neutral within four years.
UK Government departments will be asked to take 18 key steps including:
- Automatically switching off desktop computers outside working hours
- Reusing as much computer equipment as possible
- Auditing data centre and server use to make sure they are running at maximum efficiency
As the first government in the world to formally establish targets to make its ICT systems carbon neutral, the UK Government is showing strong leadership. It will involve not just offsetting but making serious changes to the way the Government does business. This move is supported by Intellect, the main ICT industry body in the UK.
Governments in Australia have yet to adopt any mandatory targets in relation to the greening of IT. Voluntary guidance is offered to Federal agencies on environmental considerations in procurement (Environmental Purchasing Guide and Checklists), but they are just that – voluntary.
Federal Government is one of the major users of ICT, and therefore has an opportunity to play a leadership role in the greening of IT.