Government needs to concentrate on more than energy

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Government needs to concentrate on more than energy

Simon Quicke

Following the announcement by the government that it plans to be carbon neutral in terms of its ICT in four years others in the industry have called for a wider focus.

The emphasis of the government's efforts were based around energy consumption with a series of initiatives that departments will be advised to follow including switching off desktops and making better use of servers.

Tom Watson, Cabinet Office minister, said that it had to cut carbon because of the importance of helping combat climate changes and added that by outlining steps that could be taken to help reduce the environmental impact other companies and customers would follow suit.

"Lots of small actions make a big impact. Between us we can make a real difference in the fight against climate change," he said.

But in response Richard Barrington, head of public policy at Sun Microsystems, said that the focus had to be widened beyond just energy and sweating desktops that would become more inefficient was not the only approach that could be taken.

"It is a leap in the right direction not just a step but there are some issues around the focus, which is on energy efficiency and not sustainability," he said.

"There is some concern about embedded energy in PCs so keeping them longer [could be a problem]," he added there would need to be smarter refresh cycles.

One of the innovations that could have an impact is the idea of shadow pricing for carbon which could become a feature of government tenders.

Barrington said it could result in some more expensive brands beating the competition because with the shadow pricing of carbon it might help achieve the government's wider goals of reaching neutrality in four years time.

Chris Davies, General Manager of D-Link, agreed that the focus had to be moved away from energy but praised Watson for starting the carbon neutrality move.

"Of course there are wider issues, but that's just fudging what can be done immediately. Technology is available today that can dramatically cut energy usage. We've all passed Government buildings where

PCs glow untouched in the dark. The directive needs to filter down more quickly to front-line IT management within the public sector, which we haven't seen great evidence of to-date. Currently, we are challenged more frequently by the commercial sector as part of Corporate Social Responsibility."

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