Cabinet Office’s IT pushes out 401 tonnes of CO2. No figure for the hot air

Interesting story in The Register.

Tom Watson Civil Service Minister at the Cabinet Office outlined his department’s efforts to reduce CO2 emissions in a Commons answer yesterday. He said the department last year used “929 000 kWh of electricity at a cost of £61 000 for its IT Services”. This equated to 401 tonnes of CO2. Desktops accounted for 420 000 kWh, printing 195 000kWh and the rest was down to its datacentre. Asked what the department was doing to reduce greenhouse emissions, he reeled out a series of stock measures including reducing the number of printers and replacing them with greener multifunction devices, putting monitors into standby, shutting down PCs after hours using power management kit, offloading redundant kit and “starting to replace existing servers with storage area networking devices that implement storage virtualisation.”

Sounds like a beanfeast for government suppliers — except that at the same time he announced that “the lifecycle of all end user devices has been extended to five years” and “the number of PCs and laptops will be reduced to as close to one per person as possible”. At the same time “thin client technology will be used with low-power consumption CPUs server technology that complies with the recommendations in the Greening Government ICT Strategy.”

Actually, this Parliamentary Answer sets a helpful precedent. It’d be good to see companies as well as public bodies starting to account for their carbon footprints. And even if I were an accountant who’s entirely unmoved about climate change I’d be very interested in the fact that my organisation used nearly a million units of electricity in a year.