Managing the company’s carbon footprint: The emerging role of ICT

Climate change is a fact, and the scientific evidence so far seems to implicate greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, as the cause of climate change. Since the industrial revolution, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have gone from 280ppm (parts per million) to 380ppm. Clearly, commerce and industry had a big role to play in this increase, so it is hardly surprising that, today, companies are under increasing pressure to clean up their act.

All industries are culpable, to some extent, for the rise in greenhouse gases. At the moment, though, it is the more obvious or visible offenders that are feeling the pressure to change—the oil industry and the airline industry to name a couple. But, as consumer and regulatory pressure grows, all companies will be compelled to reduce their carbon footprint. Many industries are already beginning to recognise the need to manage their energy use as strategically as possible in order to reduce environmental impact. In the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, for example, power consumption is high in areas such as data management and server demand. That means that understanding the implications of such consumption on climate change is important for consumers and businesses that use computing equipment and servers. However, more importantly, it is a critical area for any company operating in the ICT field.

But the good news is that ICT companies have a variety of options for managing power consumption more efficiently, including such options as server virtualisation and more energy efficient computing chips.

The goal of this report is not to identify ways in which ICT can become more energy efficient, but rather to identify the variety of means by which ICT can be used as a means to reduce carbon emissions. For example, video and audio conferencing can be used to save on business travel, which in turn reduces the potential of carbon emissions from aeroplanes, cars and other modes of transport. In addition, the internet and digital collaboration tools make home-working a possibility for many millions of employees, obviating their need to commute. Furthermore, scheduling software and radio frequency identification tags have made supply chains more efficient.

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