Don't believe in climate change? Try asking the IT department

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It is World Environment Day today and the headline in the Financial Times states “Climate change is not a priority”.

It left me wondering what it takes to get through to some people.

The FT reported the results of a Yougov survey of 73 companies for KPMG, some from the FTSE 350 and some equivalent sized private companies. The findings make salutary reading.

The most pressing concerns of company chiefs were brand awareness and marketing strategies, which were followed by corporate social responsibility. Climate change came bottom.

Just 14% of execs said they had a clear strategy for tackling climate change, only half said they understood the business consequences of climate change, while two thirds said their company gave the issue the attention it deserved.

You would not expect company executives to focus on anything other than the bottom line and ensuring long term profitability.

What is depressing though is their inability to link their concerns over brand awareness and marketing to environmental responsibility.

They somehow even manage to divorce corporate social responsibility from environmental issues.

If chief execs want to know how important green issues are they should take a trip down to the IT department.

IT directors and IT managers are increasingly sweating about the utility bills from running their data centres. If they need new data centres they have to negotiate with the energy companies and it is often an unhappy experience – the power supplies are often not there.

Anyone working in central London last summer will remember the unplanned power cuts that saw thousands of people sent home from shops and businesses when the power tripped.

It might have been a good workout for some organisation’s business continuity systems, but it proved a costly interruption for others.

If power cuts become a regular feature of life then the IT department will have to invest more in business continuity – and that will either come from the budgets of other IT projects or the company bottom line.

It is not just company execs who are failing to get the green message. The PCS trade union, which represents civil servants, today published research that claimed government departments and agencies are not practicing what they preach on energy efficiency and recycling schemes.

The union is proposing green reps – with the power to act like health and safety reps in the workplace. Whether that happens or not, organisations should take it is time to take environmental responsibilities seriously or face the consequences – and it won’t just be future generations that pay the price, it will be today’s CEOs and company boards.

Green IT will be a major theme at next week’s Forrester Forum in Edinburgh – we aim to carry full coverage of that event.

PS: If you think this is a load of worthy twaddle try this contrarian view: If you want to save the planet from global warming, don't recycle.

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