The Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong, has ducked questions about whether the Australian Federal Government would follow the UK’s lead in making government ICT carbon neutral, despite industry calls to consider it.
Late last month, the UK government announced its plans to achieve carbon neutrality within its central government office ICT by 2012.
Despite repeated requests by phone and email, Senator Wong refused to say if the Australian government would make a similar pledge.
Instead, in a written response a spokesperson for the Minister said “a whole-of-government taskforce is currently working on ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, waste, energy and water use in government operations, as well as the sustainable use of commonwealth land.
“Known as the Inter-Departmental Committee on Government Leadership in Sustainability, it is due to report soon. In parallel with the committee’s work, the Australian National Audit Office is undertaking a performance audit across government agencies to assess and report on the progress being made in achieving better practice in green office procurement and sustainable office management. Completion is anticipated in early 2009.”
Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) corporate social responsibility and sustainability manager, Josh Millen, encouraged the government to consider making a similar pledge to that announced by the UK.
“I would suggest there are people already considering it in government. Whether they specifically adopt it or take a more enlightened view on it, that’s up to them. But we are certainly encouraging them to consider it seriously,” he said.
“The AIIA has recently suggested in a number of submissions to government that green procurement should be at the forefront of ICT considerations.
“It may be underestimated but ICT has a huge future in mitigating CO2. It has such a transformational role not just in the environment but across different industries.”
Australian Computer Society (ACS) president Kumar Parakala, said while it was understandable the government was still considering its ICT approach, he encouraged them to look into making a similar pledge.
“The UK decision is a good step; we would definitely encourage the Australian government to consider something similar,” Parakala said.
“Government in many states actually contributes 40-50 per cent of the revenue of many suppliers. Government in Australia is one of the big buyers of technology solutions and products.