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Government to launch 'Green IT Strategy'

The national initiative is aimed at reducing IT-related carbon emissions and will focus on examples of best practice
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Written by Nick Heath on

The government is to lead the way in green IT by launching a national strategy to cut computer-related carbon emissions.

Government chief information officer John Suffolk announced the "Green IT Strategy", saying it would be scrutinised by ministers over the next eight weeks, ahead of its launch.

Suffolk stressed the importance of IT in helping reduce the UK's CO2 emissions. He said IT plays a role in 5.5 million public services and the government spends approximately £14bn on technology each year.

Suffolk said: "We can very significantly impact in terms of what is going on, but the key thing is to make progress."

The strategy will provide advice and tips on how to slash IT power demands and emissions.

Suffolk said it was important for chief information officers to begin by mastering the basics of cutting carbon emissions, by employing such strategies as using equipment for longer; using DC power and fresh air cooling in datacentres; switching off computers out of hours; reducing employee-to-printer ratios; and increasing videoconferencing and home-working capabilities.

The strategy will focus on examples of best practice. Suffolk suggested that IT "champions" with a proven record of cutting carbon emissions should be a model for green IT in the public and private sector.

He said: "The problem is that people do not know what the best design for green IT is, and we have to reinvent it again and again."

"If anybody can show us how best to do it, then we should copy them, rather than continually relearning and making a big mess of it," Suffolk added.

The strategy will also set out how far along the public sector is in reducing its CO2 emissions from IT.

Suffolk also expressed high hopes for further CO2 cuts from near-future chips that can reduce power demands by adjusting their clock speed to match the task.

He warned that the UK government has many underground datacentres that are directly at risk from climate change-related flooding.

The announcement came as a study by the centre-right thinktank Policy Exchange said the government had missed 60 percent of its green targets set since 1997, including providing five percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2003.

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