News Release

Improved Collaboration Across Government Agencies Key To Meeting Public Sector 'Green ICT' Targets

New research highlights challenges in achieving carbon reduction targets
Jul 02, 2009

LONDON, July 2, 2009 – Public sector organisations need increased levels of information, awareness, and a drastic improvement in how they share knowledge with and learn from other public sector agencies, if they are to meet carbon reduction targets imposed by Central Government. These are the key findings according to a new study entitled 'The Path to Greener Government', launched today by the independent environmental charity, Global Action Plan and leading networking equipment manufacturer, Cisco.

The survey of over 150 public sector ICT managers explores public sector confidence in meeting the carbon reduction targets set out last year in the Greening Government Information Communication Technology (ICT) Strategy, developed by the UK Government Green iCT Delivery Unit of the CIO Council launched, launched by Tom Watson, the then Minister for Transformational Government.

Findings reveal 67% of those surveyed were concerned or extremely concerned about their organisations ability to meet the targets set out in the strategy.  The findings indicate that a number of public sector organisations are failing to adopt 'Green ICT' strategies, which if not changed, could mean Central Government could be adversely hit by its own Carbon Reduction Commitment.

The report also found that only 16% of respondents are currently sharing best practice and knowledge in the development and implementation of Green ICT strategies with other public sector agencies. 

Despite the financial pressures, 70% of respondents feel that Green ICT is still important and a number of public sector organisations are already introducing new technologies to help reduce their carbon emissions including new, real-time visual and audio collaboration technologies.  These new technologies can help Government agencies cut carbon emissions, improve service levels and reduce costs. The survey reveals take up of these technologies is increasing, 30% of respondents have introduced a form of videoconferencing solution and a further 28% of respondents are using ICT to promote and support flexible working practices.

Key findings highlight the challenges facing the public sector:

  • Internal targets needed – Only 22% of respondents have set internal Green ICT targets, suggesting that initiatives which are being implemented are not part of a wider coherent strategy
  • Baseline data not recorded – Only 13% of respondents calculate their carbon footprint.  This information would provide a starting point for the development of a Green ICT strategy
  • Few incentives for change – 81% of respondents do not pay for their energy use and 67% do not see their energy bill, meaning they do not have the incentives or basic information to benchmark their performance and measure reduction

Neil Crockett, head of Public Sector in UK & Ireland at Cisco, said, "Ultimately the report highlights that the public sector is taking steps towards reducing its carbon footprint, overall the results demonstrate there is still much work to be done. ICT has the power to transform the way the public sector delivers its services, helping to improve interagency communication and meet the Government's carbon reduction targets."

The survey was supported by interviews with key policy makers in Green ICT including Catalina McGregor, Government Deputy Champion of Green ICT at the Cabinet Office CIO/CTO Council; Steve Palmer, president of SOCITM; Farooq Ullah, policy analyst at the Sustainable Development Commission; Rakesh Kumar, vice president of Gartner Research and Jeremy Green, practice leader at Ovum.

The consensus amongst the expert panel was that Green ICT is an enabler for huge environmental and cultural change and must remain high on the political agenda despite the recession, and that the Government should use its procurement weight to drive change across the whole ICT sector, by using its example to generate broader demand for Green ICT and create a strong, sustained, buyer-led shift in the market towards energy efficiency.

Steve Palmer, president of SOCITM said, "The economic downturn we face provides an enormous opportunity for maximising the potential that ICT has for delivering high quality, low carbon services. Most third and public sector bodies know that they cannot afford to continue as normal and will need to restructure the way that services are delivered.  Green ICT initiatives cannot just reduce travel, enable flexible working and reduce energy consumption; they can also improve the quality and delivery of frontline services. What is needed is greater understanding and collaboration between organisations to put these innovations into practice."