Vendor environmental groups: all hot air and no action?

Intellect – the trade association for the UK technology industry – last week announced the creation of an industry leadership group for its energy and environment work programme. It aims to drive forward the green agenda and overcome end user scepticism of vendors so-called greenwash.


Intellect – the trade association for the UK technology industry – last week announced the creation of an industry leadership group for its energy and environment work programme.

The group comprises senior directors of ten technology companies, reflecting the sectors that Intellect represents: Accenture, Dell, Deloitte, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Intel, Memset, Microsoft and Sharp

They are providing strategic input to and guidance for Intellect’s energy and the environment work.

I see you roll your eyes, I hear you groan, well in my imagination at least, and I am not surprised. “Yet another group of technology vendors getting together because it sounds like the right thing to do. We’ll never hear of them again: all hot air and no action, “ is possibly what you are thinking. And I don’t blame you.

When we first discussed the idea of forming such a group at Intellect we considered this too. But, we reasoned, there is no point in dismissing a very useful tool, simply because it isn’t a new idea or because it hasn’t always worked in other instances.

I believe the Intellect leadership group will work and will make our environment programme much more effective, for a range of reasons.

The group is comprised purely of individuals who volunteered to join – their companies did not force them to. They joined because they all believe it is imperative that we act to slow climate change and that together we have the power to do so.

When they expressed an interest in joining they also committed a certain amount of time to the group, as well as agreeing to share their expertise and knowledge in this area, something that has now been stated publicly.

The group has been a very useful sounding board as we were writing our report: High Tech: Low Carbon, examining the role of the technology industry in tackling climate change, which we are publishing today (12 February).

In the report Intellect makes several commitments to reduce the energy consumption of our sector in specific ways. The leadership has agreed to keep a check on the work Intellect is doing to ensure we meet these commitments. I think they will, and not only because we will keep asking for their assistance.

Intellect represents the technology industry, so what we do and say is a reflection of our members - the people who are part of our leadership group. This means that they have a vested interest in our work succeeding.

In practice, the leadership group will help Intellect meet the commitments in a variety of ways. These include:

  • • Providing expertise and guidance on how to implement the commitments
  • • Reviewing progress against implementation plans at regular leadership meetings
  • • Leading by example – ensuring their companies are involved in the programmes that Intellect proposes
  • • Encouraging peers in the industry to also join these programmes

So far, the mix of technology sectors represented by the leadership group is providing us with a well-rounded perspective and balance to our work. However, we will be involving non-vendor organisations in our work too, to ensure that we don’t get caught with ‘can’t see the woods for the trees’ syndrome.

For our High Tech: Low Carbon report we have worked with the University of Warwick, the Market Transformation Programme team at DEFRA, the BCS, the Carbon Trust, The Energy Savings Trust and EICTA.

So look out for more news from our leadership group or from me, detailing actions we have taken, that have been guided by the group. And stop that groaning, please…..

Laurence Harrison, is director of Intellect’s energy and environment work.

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