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Time for ICT to step up to the plate

In March, corporate heavyweights Ericsson, Nortel Networks, Research in Motion and Bell Canada Enterprises each announced support of a plan by Quebec-based PROMPT Inc. to develop a carbon-neutral Inte...


July 1, 2008  


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In March, corporate heavyweights Ericsson, Nortel Networks, Research in Motion and Bell Canada Enterprises each announced support of a plan by Quebec-based PROMPT Inc. to develop a carbon-neutral Internet.

In June, HP Labs announced that it will focus its sustainability research on three major projects — reducing the carbon footprint of data centres by 75%, replacing copper wires with laser light beams and developing a series of software and services tools to measure and manage environmental impacts such as carbon emissions and total energy usage.

That same month, IBM Corp. signed an agreement with gigaCENTER Services Corp. that will see the two build a $75 million 46,000 square metre green data centre in Kelowna, B. C. IBM also released details of a new service called the IT Carbon Strategy Study, which it said will allow companies starting out on their “green transformation” to identify the most rapid areas of reduction in IT carbon emissions. The company estimates that a significant reduction in carbon footprint can be achieved in “often overlooked areas such as desktop systems, networking components, server rooms and printers.”

All of this activity is good news to Bill St. Arnaud, chief research officer of Canarie Inc. Responsible for the coordination and implementation of Canada’s next generation optical Internet initiative called CA*net4, he spoke about the need for the ICT industry to initiate change (see story p. 6) at the recent 2008 Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto.

In presentations, St. Arnaud points out that the ICT industry and research community have a collective responsibility to help address the problem of global warming. He adds that “this is a community that is used to rapid changes and has many of the most innovative people in both academia and business.”

To that end, “research and education networks and CIOs could play a critical leadership role in deploying new network and cyber infrastructures that eliminate their carbon footprints.”

A study released on June 20 entitled Smart 2020: enabling the low carbon economy in the information age, concludes that transformation in the way people and businesses use technology could reduce annual man-made global emissions by 15% by 2020 and deliver energy efficiency savings to global businesses of over US$800 billion.

Written by The Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative, the independent findings reveals that while ICT’s own sector footprint of 2% of global emissions will almost double by 2020, its “unique ability to monitor and maximize energy efficiency both within and outside of its owner sector could cut CO2 emissions by up to five times this amount.

This represents a saving of 7.8 Giga-tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GTCO2E), which the report says is greater than the current annual emissions of either the U. S. or China. Organizations supporting the report include GeSI member companies Bell Canada, British Telecommunications plc (BT), Cisco Systems, Nokia Siemens Networks, HP, Intel and Microsoft.

“PCs, mobile phones and the Web have transformed the way we all live and do business,” said Steve Howard, CEO of the Climate Group. “Global warning and soaring energy prices mean that rethinking how every home and business uses technology to cut unnecessary costs and carbon is critical to our environment and economy.

“Supported by innovative government policy, ICT can unlock the clean green industrial revolution we need to tackle climate change and usher in a new era of low carbon prosperity.”