IT is not green and never ever will be!

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

“It is up to corporate and government strategists to exploit the potential of ‘green IT’,” argues Stefan Heng, a researcher at Deutsche Bank, in a February paper.

The paper asserts that green IT is “highly relevant to society” given the rise in energy prices and ongoing discussions about climate change. 

To illustrate this, Heng points out that “energy spending in computer centres rises at a rate of eight times higher than hardware spending”. 

With the help of green IT, the author claims that energy consumption could be reduced by “roughly half” provided that awareness can be raised among users of “their responsibility with regard to energy saving,” and provided that “more energy efficient technologies are implemented nation-wide”. 

However, he admits that green IT is “not green” in itself as energy consumption is “necessarily associated with the use of high-tech devices”. 

Heng cautions that the manufacture of IT hardware uses “toxic substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium and bromine,” which are harmful to the environment, while electronic waste is “difficult to recycle”. 

Nonetheless, he staunchly defends green IT, arguing that it is “not just about cutting energy costs at company level,” but also “helps to decouple energy consumption and economic growth”. 

Heng points out that the IT sector is already “helping to reduce the use of resources in several sectors [by creating] state-of-the-art control technology, which raises efficiency in production, and modern communication technologies such as video conferences and augmented reality systems”. 

Therefore, green IT should be taken seriously as it “helps to manage [processes] more efficiently” and leads to “completely new resource-saving business models and processes,” the paper states. 

“Even though information technology is not green and never ever will be, green IT is by no means short-lived hype,” Heng concludes. 

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