IT carbon emissions ‘match aviation’

The ICT sector has a carbon footprint similar to that of the aviation industry and will soon outstrip emissions from flights, according to a new report.

Environmental charity Global Action Plan, which commissioned the research, argued the sector now needed to be given the same level of attention as aviation or 4x4s.

An Inefficient Truth, says many UK companies are using vast amounts of energy by inefficiently storing data and failing to adopt sustainable habits such as switching off units at night.

It also revealed that many ICT departments have no idea how much energy they are using and are often not involved in their companies’ sustainability policies.

Trewin Restorick, director of Global Action Plan, said: “We just cannot make the connection between our use of ICT and climate change. Somehow we have got to change.”

He accused many companies in the ICT and communications sector of using green claims as a marketing tool.

The organisation is calling on the Government to change legislation governing the way data has to be stored in the UK.

He said: “Government legislation is just not connected at all to this debate. It is pressing more and more demands on businesses to store data for ever and if they bring in identity cards and road pricing all of these things are going to put more pressure on.”

Shadow environment secretary Peter Ainsworth, who was hosting the event, added: “I think the main role for Government is actually to lead by example and to join up its thinking.”

The report revealed that the ICT sector is now responsible for around 2% of man-made global carbon emissions.

Researchers found that only 40% of ICT departments are using more than half of the available space on their data servers and more than 60% thought they would run out of data storage within a year.

The report also raised concerns that more than half of the ICT departments surveyed do not see their organisations’ energy bills and two-thirds do not pay their share of bills.

Kate Martin

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