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Green ICT remains immature in South Africa and the lack of company adoption will contribute to South Africa’s failure to meet its commitments at Copenhagen, namely a 34% emission reduction below business as usual by 2020 and 42% by 2025.

This week Fujistu released its Global Green IT Benchmark 2012 report.  Unsurprisingly, South Africa did not even feature in the report, we were not even worth considering.

I blogged about this a number of years ago and still business largely remains apathetic to embracing green business and ICT organisations are stuck in an antiquated mind-set of uptime and response, rather than adapting their services using efficiency metrics and reducing carbon emissions.

Looking back, in a study published by the IDC in December 2009, South Africa ranked a diabolical 19 out of 20 G20 nations for its ability to use ICT to reduce CO2 emissions.  This put us on a level footing with Indonesia in joint last position.  I have my doubts if we have gained any ground over the interim 3 years.  We are just not doing enough.

The study showed a projected reduction opportunity of 101.4 million tonnes of CO2e annually through the adoption of technology by 2020, against a baseline of 342 million tonnes, ranking South Africa 13th on the global list of emitters.

Some opportunities identified included:

·         Smart metering which can reduce emissions associated with power by 8%,

·         Energy management systems which can reduce the emissions associated with buildings by up to 18%,

·         Intelligent motor controllers that can reduce emissions associated with industry by up to 6%,

·         Supply chain and logistics optimisation offering a 10% emissions reduction in the transport sector, and

·         Telecommuting which can reduce transport emissions by as much as 2%

The reality we face in South Africa is that the effects of climate change will impact us significantly and yet as business leaders and IT professionals, we are not putting sustainability as the number one priority on our business agenda.

The industry globally has already shifted to what is known as Green IT 2.0 or “IT for Green”, namely the application of technology in reducing emissions within business operations.  In South Africa, we have still not scratched the surface of Green IT 1.0, namely getting ICT’s house in order and reducing the energy consumption within ICT infrastructure.

Trying to understand this is a complex matter and South African’s in general have got a strong affiliation with their environment.  The main stumbling blocks that we have encountered are a lack of consistent metrics and accountability within ICT, as well as a dogmatic approach to delivering services the same way, year after year.  Globally the business landscape has migrated from measuring uptime to measuring efficiency, in South Africa we have not.

The IDC report alluded to earlier highlights much of the opportunity for ICT to take the lead within business around emissions reduction activities.  Strong and innovative leaders will embrace this opportunity, laggards will remain simply laggards.

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