With national greenhouse emissions reporting underway for several months now, and as state and territory governments consider a national emissions trading scheme, Australia’s ICT industry should not be lulled into believing these measures will only affect the tall end of town.
KPMG’s director of risk advisory services, Bob Hayward, warned that the impact of a carbon trading scheme will be felt across the entire industry and not just the 800-odd organisations immediately captured under the reporting or trading schemes.
“A lot of organisations in Australia may be thinking this doesn’t affect me, but they are going to be somewhat surprised as we see more and more of the larger companies move down the supply chain that transparency, visibility, and information about the entire lifecycle of emissions within products and services that they consume,” he said.
I think a lot of organisations have done the quick fix; they’ve virtualised a third or half of their servers, put in a few thin clients, played with the thermostat, ticked a few boxes and said ‘we’re sustainable, can we move on?’
“I think the trading scheme is going to create a lot of changes above and beyond the people actually directly involved in the scheme itself.”
Hayward believes too many organisations are approaching environmental sustainability from an IT perspective that is something of a band-aid approach, rather than a systemic change in processes and policies.
“I think a lot of organisations have done the quick fix; they’ve virtualised a third or half of their servers, put in a few thin clients, played with the thermostat, ticked a few boxes and said ‘we’re sustainable, can we move on?’
“But that’s not it at all - it’s a transformation. You need to bake in changes to procurement and the way you deal with outsourcers and facilities in a systemic way, so that you build into your business requirements and project assessments the impact of the environment and consumption costs, which is rarely done today.”
Organisations must understand that changes to policies and processes are required in addition to simply managing sustainable assets, which Hayward feels hasn’t been widely embraced just yet.
He predicts that eventually the same sort of rigour and robust reporting seen in financial management will be applied to environmentally sustainable technology practises.
Hayward sees an opportunity for government, industry and the vendor community to work collaboratively on what he calls the “98 percent challenge”.
“Everybody knows that IT is responsible for about 2 percent of emissions globally and there is enough attention paid to that, but not enough people are really discussing how IT can contribute to reducing the other 98 percent as well,” he said.
Audio and video conferencing, smart building technologies, e-business that eliminates paper based processes between customers and suppliers, and industry specific technologies like smart meters and grids are just a few examples of the role IT can play in reducing emissions beyond data centres, thin clients, virtualisation and power management features.
“Organisations will get very animated about what they are doing within their IT environment, but a lot of them fail or don’t pay enough attention to how to use technology to reduce emissions across the broader part of their business chain,” Hayward said.