Australian IT Industry Can Save 27M Carbon Tonnes


Information Technology (IT) is responsible for 2% of the world's carbon emissions, equal to aviation, according to the Sydney Morning Herald reporting last week on the ICT Sustainable Futures Forum held in Melbourne, Australia by the Australian Information Industry Association. SMH were referring to Fujitsu Australia's release of a blueprint to help businesses green their IT strategy. The five step process required getting buy-in from the top brass. After that, the other initiatives might get the traction they need.

And as if to back up that proposal, the next day, Australia's largest telecommunications business, Telstra, had their CEO, Sol Trujillo, involved in the launch of a report saying that telecom networks can help reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by almost five per cent by 2015 and deliver up to $6.6 billion a year in cost savings for Australian businesses and households. Sol was quoted as saying such networks could "facilitate a reduction in Australia's carbon emissions by 4.9 per cent or around 27 million carbon tonnes per year by 2015. This is equivalent to the annual emissions caused by nearly two-thirds of Australia's passenger cars."The report with the succinct title of Towards a High-Bandwidth, Low-Carbon Future: Telecommunications-based Opportunities to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions was put together by climate change consultants Climate Riskand then peer reviewed by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and an Australian energy authority.

Those massive savings can apparently be achieved by the following actions:
• 1.8 million tonnes (Mt) by using broadband to remotely manage power for appliances not in use or on "stand-by"
• 2.4Mt by improving business productivity with "in-person" high-definition videoconferencing
• 2.9Mt with broadband based, real-time freight allocation systems to fill empty freight vehicles
• 3.0Mt with presence-detecting services that turn off devices that are "on" but not being used
• 3.1Mt with teleworking and working in regional centres by reducing commuter car traffic
• 3.9Mt by bringing integrated personalised public transport to your door with a phone call
• 10.1Mt by increasing renewable energy use with networked demand-side management.

As detailed in the media release Telstra believe they have been leading by example, having reduced vehicle fuel consumption by 5% by installing GPS, using energy management programs to save the equivalent annual greenhouse gas emissions of 2,225 Australian homes, and saving some 4,200 tonnes in travel carbon through nearly 7,500 video conferences.

Telstra was once a commonwealth utility, but is now just one third owned by the Australian people. Company executives want this remaining Federal government apron string to be cut in a public sell off, so they can realise their corporate ambitions for broadband and other business opportunities.

WWF Australia's CEO, Greg Bourne, avoided being mired in this political quicksand and simply said, "Telstra has set an international precedent among the
telecommunications industry by finding ways that the industry can contribute towards a national shift to a low-carbon economy."

Which again echoes that aforementioned Fujitsu strategy about which one their IT consultants, Alison O'Flynn, remarked, "A recent survey found 94 per cent of company directors say they need to (come to terms with) climate change." ::Telstra Corporate Responsibility

The full Telstra Climate Report is also available as 5.3MB PDF download from Climate Risk.

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