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IT will help UK meet carbon targets, says BCS

But Intellect believes that government also needs to start driving demand for green IT solutions

BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, has welcomed the government's plans to extend the UK's carbon budget, saying that IT has a key role to play in meeting the targets.

Energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne earlier this week announced that the UK would be signing up to a Fourth Carbon Budget, which sets out plans to meet a target of 1,950 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent for the five-year period between 2023 and 2026. This represents a 50 percent reduction from 1990 levels.

According to the Climate Change Act 2008, the UK has a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.

"It is widely recognised that our use of energy and other natural resources can be reduced or at least optimised through the use of IT. Therefore information technology is seen by many as being the primary solution to addressing and reducing the carbon emissions of almost every sector," said Zahl Limbuwala, chair of BCS data centre specialist group.

"We believe that in order to meet these new criteria, IT professionals will be key to providing innovative approaches to efficiency."

IT companies SAP and HP backed Limbuwala's comments, with Ian Brooks European head of innovation and sustainable computing at HP, saying that it will be "imperative" for organisations and governments to deploy measurement and control systems to understand their consumption patterns.

Meanwhile, James Farrah, vice-president of sustainability at SAP, said "Software supports effective energy management by providing visibility into asset utilisation and energy use, identifying cost reduction opportunities and linking to plant control systems to monitor plant operating performance.

"It can also help organisations accurately measure, report, mitigate, and monetise carbon emissions and other environmental impacts."

However, Limbuwala said that while IT can enable energy efficiency in organisations, the industry also needs to master its own emissions.

"It's important that our industry takes great steps to address its own carbon emissions with the expected explosion in use of IT. We've already seen many steps towards this, including the development of the EU Code of Conduct for Data centres," he said.

Intellect, the IT industry association, also welcomed the fourth carbon budget, but believes that demand for IT solutions to carbon efficiency targets are also needed.

"If we use technology intelligently enough, we can meet them [the carbon targets]. The ICT sector already provides an astonishing range of low carbon and energy-saving technologies, from transport substitutes to advanced logistics, and from advanced metering to building management systems.

"The problem is that these technologies are hopelessly under-deployed, so the issue is not technological readiness but market demand. So we'd also welcome additional measures to stimulate demand," said Emma Fryer, associate director of climate change programmes at Intellect.

She added: "Specifically we would like to see a more enlightened approach to green public procurement, which is an essential driver of demand and would demonstrate that the government is prepared to lead by example."

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