Businesses under pressure to reduce their impact on the environment have been advised to establish carbon banks that can channel cash collected from customers into greenhouse abatement programs such as computer system reforms. Jetstar was already harnessing such an initiative, the airline's chief information officer, Stephen Tame, said. About 16 per cent of its passengers were now participating in its carbon offset scheme.
Jetstar customers, by ticking a checkbox that confirms their preference for carbon-free travel, had generated a war chest of nearly $500,000 that the airline would put towards carbon abatement programs this year, Mr Tame told MIS magazine's Sustainable IT conference in Sydney last week.
"The more consumers that opt in to offset their cost the more beneficial to you," he said.
"As a business, you can sit here and wait for the regulators to state the carbon tax or you can generate carbon credits in your business that are offset by customers."
Mr Tame said enterprise information and communication technology departments had a big role to play in developing systems and processes that could accurately measure a business's carbon emissions.
IT was one of the largest contributors to corporate carbon footprints and needed to move quickly to reduce its impact on the environment.
Mr Tame said virtualisation technologies were key to lowering electrical usage in the IT department and that organisations, in cutting the number of servers they operated by through virtualisation, could make big reductions in the volume of carbon dioxide they generated.
"A $5000 server produces approximately 12.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, which is 55 native trees per year per server," Mr Tame said.
Jetstar's efforts have concentrated on cutting the emissions produced by information systems such as data centres and desktop computers.
But Mr Tame said corporate computing departments needed to play an active role in developing systems that would allow them to measure not only the effectiveness of their own green initiatives but those of the entire business.
That role will be heightened this year for more than 400 of the country's biggest carbon emitters as a new federal government emissions reporting scheme comes into effect after July 1.
AMP Capital's Sustainable Funds and Australian Equities senior research analyst, Ian Woods, said IT departments were increasingly seen as the enabler of corporate sustainability plans rather than just the source of all problems
Dr Woods said clamping down on overall energy use would become a key issue in the near future, especially when "time of use electricity pricing" becomes a standard pricing model for corporate computing. "I have looked at three of the top four Australian banks and the difference in energy use per full-time employee is something like 50 per cent between the bottom and the top bank," Dr Woods said.
"One of the banks is using 50 per cent more electricity per full-time employee than the best performing bank, which is an interesting indication in terms of how they are managing those issues."
Fairfax Business Media
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