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Our broadband is greener: Conroy

Only the National Broadband Network (NBN) will be able to achieve an estimated 320,000-tonne reduction in carbon emissions through increased teleworking, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said at yesterday's National Press Club ICT debate.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor on

Only the National Broadband Network (NBN) will be able to achieve an estimated 320,000-tonne reduction in carbon emissions through increased teleworking, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said at yesterday's National Press Club ICT debate.

Green IT

(IBM portable personal computer image
by Bruno Cordioli, CC2.0)

"Ten days ago I released an Access Economics study which found that ... if 10 per cent of Australians worked from home 50 per cent of the time we would reduce fuel consumption by 120 million litres each year and reduce carbon emissions by 320,000 tonnes," Conroy said yesterday.

"In fact, the report says the estimated benefits of teleworking [are] in the order of $1.4 to $1.9 billion a year. You can't do it on the network that [Shadow Communications Minister Tony Smith] is proposing to construct."

Conroy highlighted dishwashers using smart grids in Holland to achieve efficient power use as an example of the kind of green benefits the NBN could bring.

"To get the true benefits of a smart grid you need to have a National Broadband Network of the type we are building," he said, criticising the Coalition's metro and regional wireless network plan. "A wireless network is far more carbon intensive than a fibre network and that's just a fact."

Smith indicated that the Coalition supported "practical measures" and better government leadership on efficient ICT use. In a similar vein to the Labor party's broadband policy and internet filtering plans, the Coalition would seek to resurrect the Howard Government's Greenhouse Friendly program with $10 million in funding, according to Smith.

The program, introduced in 2001, allowed Australian businesses to receive tax offsets for providing carbon neutral products and services to the market.

"It wasn't a huge program but what it did was it enabled businesses to conduct green ICT-friendly programs. There are a number in the ICT sector including printer cartridge recycling to name a few. The government abolished the program," Smith said. "We're going to bring it back [and] we're going to fund it with $10 million over the next five years."

The Greens Communications spokesperson Scott Ludlam said the internet was still ultimately powered by coal-fired electricity "coming down the wires" and setting a carbon price was important. He said the best start would be to get a measure of carbon emissions across the ICT industry.

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