UK IT industry will be forced to go green

UK IT industry will be forced to go green

Climate change bill promises 'gun to the head'

The UK government warned today that planned legislation will force the IT industry to clean up its environmental act.

Alan Whitehead, chairman of the Associate Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group, and MP for Southampton Test, said that a climate change bill will come before parliament before the next election that will set carbon budgets every five years.

The goal of the legislation is to cut the UK's carbon emissions by between 60 and 80 per cent by 2050.

Whitehead maintained that the technology industry will be crucial to achieving these targets.

"The IT industry will change from power hungry to green hungry in a short period of time," he said.

"The IT industry has not been mindful of its CO2 footprint and that will have to change, either by industry changing or by someone putting a metaphorical gun to its head and making it happen."

Whitehead suggested that there are strong similarities between the IT and airline industries. The aircraft industry has always focused on getting people to places as quickly as possible and the IT industry had done the same for data.

But this approach will have to change, according to the MP. Companies and manufacturers will have to monitor carbon emissions, and will be allocated a budget to trade credits between each other.

Whitehead explained that power ratings, such as those used for electronic devices, might need to be added to IT services and usage patterns.

This would be complicated because products, and thus emissions, are global. But the bill is a step in the right direction with the formation of a European carbon trading scheme.

David Angwin, senior marketing manager at Wyse Technology, added: "Technologies exist today to solve environmental problems.

"How we drive people to do this is interesting. We do need a stick and a carrot. If we can create more efficient IT that's the carrot, but we also need legislation. What concerns me is legislation that inhibits innovation."

Angwin suggested a number of initiatives, such as increasing the amount of time between equipment replacement cycles, encouraging greater use of home working and alternative systems such as thin client computing.