Aussie CIOs, businesses don't understand Garnaut Review implications

Is your CIO or organisation adopting a reactive or proactive approach to climate change? The Garnaut Review should be your call to action.

Green IT: Prioritising the issues (Source: Gartner)

Green IT: Prioritising the issues (Source: Gartner)

Most IT managers and organisations in Australia are yet to wake up to the corporate requirements for reporting and improving greenhouse gas abatement, according to a Gartner analyst who labeled the Garnaut Climate Change Review a call to action for the nation’s IT industry.

“There are trivial levels of understanding at the moment; in business very few people have thought about the problem. They don’t understand the requirements and they don’t understand abatement,” said Geoff Johnson, Gartner research VP in enterprise communications applications, networking and telecommunications in Asia Pacific.

“First of all you need to wrap your mind around what your particular company’s requirements are; if you are in the top 100 you are going to have to put submissions into the government through Treasury, so there’s a very specific set of work to do.”

The emissions reporting system is being implemented in three annual steps beginning July this year with the largest emitting organisations (25 kilotonnes or more of greenhouse gases), many of whom are well prepared for the requirements and have had reporting systems in place for some time. It’s the estimated 700-1000 medium and large organisations that will follow (by 2010-2011) who are expected to be much less prepared for the reporting scheme.

An online calculator is available to help corporations assess thresholds on the climate change Web site.

“It’s going to be on the agenda, getting into budgets and policy work inside the organisations of your readers,” Johnson told Computerworld.

“If you are an enterprise today you are just starting to wrap your mind around what the cost of carbon is, what the government might be doing and what the Treasury spreadsheet looks like. But the mind hasn’t yet turned to internal systems about how we capture this and deliver responses to government…I think there is going to be a massive re-jig in the CIO suite to figure out whose solutions and what packages to use.”

(See the features "10 sources pushing CIOs to go green" and "A green IT checklist: From first steps to stretch goals")

Johnson called the Garnaut review a call to action for the IT industry, not only in reducing its own environmental impact, but also in aiding other sectors driven by technology.

“Everybody will want to manage their numbers and their environment as best as they can, and you absolutely need IT for that -- you aren’t going to do it with a paper and pencil…

According to reports, in Australia the biggest polluter is the coal fired electricity generation industry, which is about 80 percent of the problem. The second biggest area is transport at around 15 percent. IT is around 2 percent.

“With transport, for example, the IT industry can help in many ways, particularly by telecommuting. You set up people with VPNs and give them the IT infrastructure to work from anywhere. Upwards of a third of people do that anyway but we think it can be extended,” he said.

(See the features "Becoming a green road warrior" and "Six Steps to a Green Data Center")

Fadi Geha, vice president for carbon management solution provider Carbonview, agreed that the innovation technologies IT provides and underpins is crucial to fighting greenhouse emissions. He echoed Johnson’s prediction that the Garnaut Review and emissions reporting schemes will light a fire under CIO’s proverbial derrières.

“CIOs can either take a reactive approach and wait for the board to come back and say ‘you need to solve this problem, go and do it’. Or they can be more proactive and say ‘this is what best practice is doing, here’s how we can save the company money, here’s how we can become more efficient, and here’s a set of recommendations on how to do all that’,” he said.

“But it’s fair to say the Australian industry today is not ticking all the boxes when it comes to compliance. I think there is a bit of a belief that it can wait a few more months…but I think it will really hit hard after the summer break when boards convene to close off their key initiatives before the financial year ends.”

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