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Sydney, Australia, November 12, 2008 View All Press Releases

Towards a 'Low Carb' Economy: Gartner says IT is a Key Dietary Requirement

Enterprises will soon be operating in an economy in which the growth in greenhouse gas emissions is halted and then reduced, and one in which greenhouse gases have a cost and/or are capped. According to Gartner analysts, technology innovation will have an important role in how this economy would be enforced and regulated, and will be an enabler for enterprises to exploit the opportunities of a low carbon economy.

Speaking at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Sydney this week, analysts said information technology (IT) would play an increasingly important part in an organisation’s long term commitment to environmental sustainability.

While Gartner estimates that IT itself contributes approximately two percent of global carbon emissions, and there are many steps that organisations can take to reduce this, the more important role for IT is to help reduce the other 98 percent of carbon emissions.

In the ‘low carb’ economy, IT’s main role will be in creating new innovations to reduce the CO2 footprint of the organisation, its supply chain, and that of its products and services. However, IT is currently being overlooked as a potential source of opportunity because neither the business nor IT understands the possible contribution.

In Australia, this creates opportunities for IT to develop new systems to track power consumption and “carbon footprint”, and to support the country’s carbon trading schemes. At one end of the spectrum, high carbon emitters such as large power companies will invest in completely new carbon trading technology. On a broader level, many organisations will implement some kind of carbon accounting and auditing system to monitor the organisation’s carbon footprint.

Key points

Every enterprise needs to quickly develop a carbon strategy that ensures they thrive in a low-carbon economy.

Gartner believes technology will be an enabler or complementary to many carbon abatement technologies. Enabling capabilities are:

  • Dematerialisation: Physically reducing the material content in products and services and reducing the amount of physical movement of people and products.
  • Analytics and Knowledge Sharing: Using IT for what it has always done best — examples include environmental management systems, business intelligence and business process analysis.
  • Operational Technology (OT):  Includes real time systems process control and embedded technology.

IT managers need to ensure they are fixing the IT infrastructure itself, in terms of making it more energy efficient. But very importantly they need to be looking at how they can use IT to reduce the energy and carbon on business operations and the value chains in which they operate.

Quotes

Simon Mingay, Research VP, Gartner said: “This is not a fad. Once an enterprise has made a meaningful commitment to environmental sustainability, it is very hard to step away. IT must identify areas of innovation in enterprise operations, products, services and supply chains where IT can be used to drive significant increases in material and energy efficiency.”

Kristian Steenstrup, VP and Gartner Fellow said: “One of IT’s main roles in this new economy will be in the development of new technologies. This can range from technologies to manage the organisation’s entire carbon trading initiative to technologies for auditing and accounting for the organisation’s carbon footprint.”

Multi media  

Simon Mingay’s presentation on the low carb economy

Simon Mingay talks about IT in a low carb economy

Kristian Steenstrup talks about implications of a low carb economy for Australia

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