During Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2007 Emerging Trends, Analysts Say Failure to Reduce CO2 Emissions Risks Enterprises Incurring Additional Costs, Loss of Competitive Position and Negative Reaction from Buyers, Pressure Groups, Media and Politicians
The global information and communications technology (ICT) industry accounts for approximately 2 percent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a figure equivalent to aviation, according to a new estimate by Gartner, Inc. Despite the overall environmental value of IT, Gartner believes this is unsustainable.
At the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2007: Emerging Trends, taking place here today, Gartner analysts examined the impact the ICT industry is having on the environment, as well as the steps the industry should take to become greener.
Gartner’s estimate of the 2 percent of global CO2 emissions that ICT is responsible for includes the in-use phase of PCs, servers, cooling, fixed and mobile telephony, local area network (LAN), office telecommunications and printers. Gartner has also included an estimate of the embodied (that used in design, manufacture and distribution) energy in large-volume devices, namely PCs and cell phones. It also included all commercial and governmental IT and telecommunications infrastructure worldwide, but not consumer electronics other than cell phones and PCs.
Until now, few organizations were concerned about power costs and CO2 emissions. Although there is still a significant range of views and levels of awareness around the world and across industries, there is no doubt about the increased awareness of climate change. Intense media coverage has contributed to making “environmentalists” out of millions of people worldwide, which is beginning to affect consumer and business buying decisions. The issue is no longer about whether the enterprise needs to care, and more about the risk associated with doing nothing.
“During the next five years, increasing financial, environmental, legislative and risk-related pressures will force IT organizations to get ‘greener’; that is to say, more environmentally sustainable,” said Simon Mingay, research vice president, Gartner. “When enough buyers start demanding it and we get beyond the superficial, being ‘less bad’ will no longer be anywhere near acceptable enough. That point will be reached in 2007 and 2008 for some geographies, particularly Europe, with other countries and regions taking longer.”
According to Gartner, the ICT industry needs to gain a better understanding of the full life cycle of ICT products and services, and innovate to reduce environmental impact. This does not currently happen because of the lack of a commercial or legislative need to do so. However, Gartner anticipates that buyers will ask more detailed questions about life cycle assessments during the next three years.
“Vendors are being forced to gain a better understanding of the life cycle due to new legislation and directives in countries and regions worldwide, as well as an increasing interest from clients in life cycle assessment,” said Mr. Mingay. “The areas for innovation to reduce CO2 emissions are in the reduction of the materiality, energy consumption and use of hazardous substances throughout the life cycle, in addition to increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of recycling and the use of recycled materials.”
IT organizations, on the other hand, need to start by familiarizing themselves with existing enterprise environmental objectives and corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies. “Few IT management teams are aware of their enterprise’s CSR and environmental policies, and they have not mapped out the implications for their own activities,” said Mr. Mingay. “They need to decide whether to take a proactive response, a measured response following the market and legislation, or a passive approach that just meets legal requirements. The roles, responsibilities and programs will be very different for each.”
Gartner recommends IT organizations develop a strategy to address the current negative effects of using ICT. The growth in power requirements and levels of waste that it produces renders the current state unsustainable. Such a strategy would include:
Once initiatives are in place to reduce the negative effect of using ICT, Gartner recommends IT leaders develop initiatives that leverage ICT to reduce the enterprise’s overall environmental presence. Examples would include implementing travel-substitution applications or CSR compliance information management.
This will lead to 50 percent of IT organizations declaring an environmental imperative by 2010, and more than one third of IT organizations having one or more environmental criteria in their top six buying criteria.
“’Going green’ is no longer the reserve of a minority ‘doing the right thing’; it’s becoming an essential activity for all IT leaders,” said Mr. Mingay.
About Gartner Symposium/ITxpo
Gartner Symposium/ITxpo: Emerging Trends is Gartner’s premier event focused on the emerging trends, technologies, business models and new management thinking poised to have a dramatic impact on business, the economy and society. More than 2,000 IT professionals from the world's leading enterprises, rely on Gartner's Symposium/ITxpo: Emerging Trends event to gain insight into how their organizations can use technology to address business challenges and improve operational efficiency.
In San Francisco, an integral part of Gartner Symposium is the ITxpo show floor, where the latest cutting-edge solutions will be showcased by more than 80 best-of-breed providers and up-and-comers. There are 11 ITxpo marketplaces, including Application Development & Integration, BI & Data Warehousing, BPM, Data Center/IT Operations, Portals, Content & Collaboration, Outsourcing & IT Services, and Security & Compliance. ITxpo marketplaces are focused areas designed to aggregate solution providers into a specific market and link conference topics to market solutions. Attendees can attend technology company presentations and schedule face to face meetings with exhibitors of their choice. For more information, please visit www.gartner.com/us/symposiumwest.
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