Information and communications technology is a key factor in the government's failure to meet its own targets for reducing carbon emissions from public sector buildings, a report from the Environmental Audit Committee suggests.
In its Greening Government report, published on Wednesday, the Commons committee said the government is still producing 2.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, with its office buildings providing the largest source. Emissions from offices have been cut by just 6.3 percent from 1999 levels, compared to a target of a 12.5 percent cut by 2010-11.
In a supplementary memorandum submitted by the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), the government's independent watchdog on sustainable development, the commission noted that government usage of electricity is increasing, driven largely by the growth in its use of ICT.
"One of the key drivers of the rise in governmental energy usage may be the proliferation of computers, printers, laptops, chargers, lobby televisions, mobile phones and other ICT, as well as associated impacts, eg air conditioning of server rooms," the SDC wrote.
The SDC reiterated the recommendations of last year's Sustainable Development in Government Assessment '08 report, including a call for procurement cycles to be extended to a minimum of four years. The Commission also said that that staff should no longer be allowed more than one computer, that server facilities should be shared and that videoconferencing should be used to help reduce travel.