Can IT be a green hero?

Depends how you measure it

Depends how you measure it

Despite its power-guzzling nature, IT could be the key to helping address environmental issues.

Speaking at an event in London this week, environmental activist (and member of the 2008 silicon.com Agenda Setters list), Jonathon Porritt, said there is some cause for optimism.

At the event, organised by software company SAS, Porritt told silicon.com: "IT has the potential to help other sectors of the economy."

He explained that, while the contribution of the IT industry to carbon emissions is predicted to rise from two per cent to four per cent of total emissions over the next 15 years, the potential it has to reduce emissions elsewhere in the world economy could be four times that.

Porritt was also positive about the current development and potential of clean technology. He said: "Investment now in the clean tech industry is pretty impressive. It is massively exciting to think about what we can do."

But he also warned that there are huge challenges ahead: "This is a really complex time to work out the responses to the condition of the world today. The systemic flaws in the economy are what we really need to deal with."

Another major challenge remains helping businesses realise how to make their green plans a reality while linking them to business goals.

Peter Lacy, head of sustainability at Accenture, said at the event: "Until we have alignment within organisations it's very difficult to shift from strategy to execution," and Porritt added: "The metrics of this are going to get more important."