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Environment Agency to halve IT CO2 emissions

Outsourcing deal includes environmental targets

The Environment Agency for England and Wales plans to halve the carbon dioxide emissions of its IT operations through a new outsourcing deal announced on Friday.

The contract to manage the agency's applications and IT infrastructure will involve the transfer of 100 agency staff to Capgemini, which will also employ around 200 contractors to manage IT systems for the agency's 13,000 users. The deal is worth £336 million over seven years, said Capgemini Vice President Christine Hodgson.

Paying attention to emissions reduction and pollution management is no more expensive than a traditional IT contract, Hodgson said.

"Environmental targets don't have to cost extra. They save you money," she said.

The Environment Agency, responsible for the management of flood defences, pollution controls, and waste and recycling, set out an ambitious plan to make British industry cleaner and more efficient this week.

It intends to set an example through its own activities, by cutting its emissions of carbon dioxide, which is produced when fossil fuels are burned to generate heat or electricity. Too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing global warming, scientists believe. The warming could lead to widespread flooding, one of the environmental problems the agency was set up to prevent.

Its goal with this contract is to cut the carbon dioxide emissions of its IT activities by 50 percent.

"I don't think it's an easy target, I think it's groundbreaking," said Capgemini's Hodgson.

Although there is no set date to reach the target during the seven-year contract, "We expect a substantial proportion in the early years," said Hodgson.

She expects the emissions reductions will come from a mix of new technology and behavioural changes - although the scope for the latter may be limited: "Their staff already operate in a very environmentally friendly way," she said.

The systems set up for the new contract to buy, operate and dispose of IT equipment could also be used by other government departments in the future, according to Capgemini.

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