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Low-carbon ICT strategies boost efficiency

Highlights
  • Australian businesses could save $8.1 billion annually through the adoption of ICT to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Savings through the adoption of Teleworking and Video Conferencing could be further extended with increased adoption.
  • Organisations which have adopted measures to reduce carbon emissions are receiving broader benefits.
  • Emerging opportunities exist from technologies associated with Clean Cloud, Smart City Infrastructure, and Mobile Carbon Guidance.

Carbon-emission strategies could save Australian business and consumers up to $8.1 billion per annum, according to Telstra’s recently released Connecting with a Low Carbon Future report.

Building on a 2007 study, the report outlines seven Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) which, combined, would deliver a 5 per cent reduction in carbon emissions across the economy. The revised report tracks the progress of the adoption of these technologies, and indicates not only that they remain relevant, but that the full benefits of these technologies have positive environmental, financial and operational outcomes.

Low-carbon ICT strategies boost efficiency

“It is estimated that only $1.6 billion in savings and 2.5 million tonnes of carbon abatement annually is currently being realised,” says Paul Geason, Telstra Group Managing Director Global Enterprise & Services.

“If the seven ICT opportunities were taken up 100 per cent to expectations, the potential is there for $8.1 billion in cost reduction and 27.5 million tonnes of carbon abatement annually.”

Early wins come from teleworking

The technologies initially outlined in 2007 included; remote appliance power management, context-aware power management, decentralised working, personalised public transport and real-time fleet management.

Of these, decentralised working (i.e.teleworking) has been the most widely adopted, saving $595 million of a potential $1.7 billion.

“We’ve seen the beginning of teleworking start and expand throughout the business community, but it is still relatively informal,” Geason says. “The issues being faced are mostly cultural, the challenges are all around trust and communication and overcoming the sense of isolation.”

High-definition video conferencing offers substantial savings

The other area which achieved substantial take up is high-definition video conferencing, leading to a significant reduction in time lost to travel and the cost associated with getting people from A to B. Australian businesses have already saved in excess of $526 million of a potential overall saving of $1.2 billion and cut carbon emissions by 422 tonnes, according to the report.

Geason points out that faster internet connectivity, and the integration of tablet devices into real-time multi-point video connections will create still more savings in both carbon emissions and costs.

Capturing the broader benefits of carbon emission reduction

One of the most interesting findings of the research is that those businesses which have undertaken significant changes to reduce their carbon emissions have also achieved broader operational and strategic benefits.

“By cutting carbon emissions, Australian businesses also stand to reduce expenditure on energy costs, responding to pressures from government, industry and investors to cut carbon emissions,”

“From a strategic point of view they also gain first-mover competitive advantage, mitigate future climate change risk, and are able to attract and retain the next generation of talent who are motivated by sustainability credentials.” Geason says.

Emerging technologies to help reduce Carbon emissions

There are three emerging technologies which have the potential to enable companies to further reduce carbon emissions and costs.

The first is Clean Cloud, a term which refers to the ability of cloud computing to reduce overall data centre energy usage by consolidating data processing requirements into large, energy-efficient installations.

The second is Smart City Infrastructure, where ICT is used to reduce energy consumption through more efficient monitoring and management of water, traffic, energy, public transport and lighting systems.

The third is Mobile Carbon Guidance, which allows consumers to use their mobile phones to reduce energy consumption by turning household appliances off and on, selecting efficient travel routes and accessing data to make informed purchasing decisions.

Ultimately, it is business leaders who stand to gain the most by driving low carbon-emission technologies throughout their enterprises, and throughout the economy more broadly.

“Australian business leaders need to heed the call to drive and manage change by investing in carbon-saving technologies and oversee the cultural changes necessary to reap the rewards,” Geason says.

Download the report.

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