With pre-election campaigning in full swing, both political parties are keen to showcase their green credentials. And with the high level of political sensitivity surrounding green IT, Gartner believes its CIOs that need to take a leadership role in this area and demonstrate a degree of corporate responsibility.
Gartner estimates that IT contributes two percent of global carbon dioxide emissions and predicts by 2010, environment-related issues will be among the top five IT management concerns for more than 50 per cent of state and local government organisations in Australia, North America and Europe.
As a result, Green IT will be a key focus of Gartner's annual symposium, to be held at the Darling Harbour Convention Centre in Sydney from November 20-23, 2007.
Symposium research vice president for the public sector, Richard Harris, said although green IT is an important theme for many industries, government organisations will be more exposed and expected to play key roles in regulating and supervising the environmental impact of IT.
"Whichever party wins the next federal election, it will have to make a stronger commitment to tackling environmental change and this will affect all areas of the business community including CIOs," Harris said adding that green IT will lead to new investments as well as changes in the way that IT spending is assessed and managed.
"Many would think that green IT is a private sector issue but we firmly believe that government will feel a greater impact.
"Government finds itself in the position of being both a polluter and regulator of pollution with pressures coming from political, regulatory and economic corners. Just as businesses in many industries are increasingly using environmental pro-activeness as a marketing tool, governments can also earn political capital by appearing environment-conscious."
According to Gartner, the IT industry is right at the centre of climate change debate, both as a culprit and a possible saviour.
Harris said it is in the unique position of being able to improve its own credentials as well as being able to help other industries tackle environmental challenges.
"Although IT clearly contributes to energy consumption and pollution, it also offers ways to reduce environmental impact," he said.
Harris said government at all levels are already investigating and engaging in IT-intensive projects that aim to reduce air and water pollution.
"Australia in particular is a sophisticated IT market, where CIOs are already under considerable pressure to demonstrate sustainability - they are looking to vendors who can provide the products and services to help meet these demands," he added.
Possible solutions range from looking at alternative energy sources to teleworking and waste management. Cost pressures also play a role.
"The move towards greater consolidation and the use of shared services in government is already happening as a consequence of cost pressures," Harris said.
"Centralised data centres and networks are likely to be better managed from an environmental impact perspective by leveraging virtualisation, better utilisation and capacity management.
"Consolidation of IT procurement will also ease the selection of vendors that meet green IT requirements and better manage equipment disposal in compliance with relevant regulations."