Climate change: Unlike the airline industry, IT is part of the solution


I'm not complacent. I don't believe there is a technology solution to every problem. But this morning's news from the government’s official advisers on climate change made me angry.

We are being warned that the UK might have to cut its greenhouse gas emission 90 percent by 2050 to allow for continued growth in air travel.

By most estimates IT currently creates around the same volume of greenhouse gasses as the airline industry. But unlike the airlines, IT has both the technology and the willingness to do something about reducing its environmental impact.

There is a stark contrast between the general approach of IT vendors and end users and the special pleading of the airline chiefs and their suppliers.

OK, the IT vendor community has in the past been criticised for Greenwash, but everyday we are seeing new products and services that genuinely deliver more efficient and greener business technology.

We are also able to have a sophisticated discussion about how best to deliver both business and environmental benefits. You don’t get much of that from the airline and travel industry. Instead the rest of us are told that if we want to have holidays abroad, we have to pay for their inability to innovate.

Of course, IT still has a long way to go. A snapshot survey of Scottish senior execs highlighted that almost 90 percent of them have no idea how much energy their IT department or business operations consume. Since they are paying the bills, that seems ridiculous, but even if the survey is skewed, the results highlight that there is plenty of basic groundwork still to be done.

If you are managing an IT department and you don’t know your energy consumption, you had better get a handle on it fast, before your CEO does. If you beat the boss to it, you can present IT as part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Delivering business value and environmental benefits is not easy and a new report from the National Outsourcing Association this week brought home to me how complex the issue is. NAO chainrman Martyn Hart's blog on the isssue Outsourcing and carbon reduction - it's not simple, is worth a read. So too is the reportof an NAO committee on the subject. You don’t have to be involved in outsourcing to find it useful.

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