The Australian Information Industry Association today urged Australia to get on the "green bandwagon", since the "ICT bandwagon" had already come and gone.
The industry lobby group presented to the Federal Government a 66-page whitepaper titled ICT's Role in the Low Carbon Economy, touting ICT's potential to cut national carbon emissions by 21 percent (116 megatonnes) within the decade.
The report was a compilation of research papers by various local and global consultancies, industry groups and the Australian Government.
With more efficient ICT for energy production and distribution, transport, building management, industrial processes, health and education, the AIIA expected to create up to 70,000 jobs and boost the economy by between $35 billion and $80 billion.
The group called for legislation and a carbon price to impel businesses to become more environmentally friendly, and made five recommendations:
- That the Federal Government work with the technology industry to identify and resource activities that would encourage the rapid take-up of smart, ICT-based green technologies;
- that state and territory governments embrace CO2 reduction strategies and make widespread adoption of the digital economy a key priority in their development programs;
- that the business sector demonstrate global leadership in adopting ICT for the reduction of carbon emissions;
- that the local ICT industry showcase and promote coordinated and effective products and services for the reduction of energy across the economy; and
- that all sectors and government agencies collaborate at a national ICT Sustainability Summit event in early 2011.
"The ICT sector hasn't been vocal enough in the past to make sure we are part of the [sustainability] conversation," said AIIA chief executive Ian Birks. "We see the digital economy as the main game going forward."
Unveiling the whitepaper at Google's Sydney office this morning, Birks said the National Broadband Network was an enabler of green initiatives like teleworking and data centre consolidation.
However, AIIA board director and CSC CTO Bob Hayward acknowledged that the environmental benefits of teleworking had yet to be realised in broadband-enabled countries like South Korea.
Hayward highlighted two hurdles to data consolidation: a lack of mature, cloud computing technologies; and culture.
Culture also stood in the way of teleworking in Asia he said, where there was greater emphasis on face time and home offices were less common.
Birks said leadership "from the highest level" was key.
Meanwhile, Connection Research director Graeme Philipson, who edited the whitepaper, noted that teleworking represented only a small part - two percent - of Australia's carbon reduction opportunities.
He highlighted figures from IDC's 2009 Reducing Greenhouse Gases Through Intense Use of ICT report (pdf), which found that Australia could reduce its CO2 emissions by 37 percent with more efficient power sources.
"Australia risks missing the 'green bandwagon', just as in many ways it missed the 'ICT bandwagon'," the association wrote in its whitepaper.
"From a domestic policy perspective, AIIA believes that attention now needs to be focused on tactical measures which can be implemented in order to reduce carbon emissions when a global agreement is finalised.
"There is no need to wait to see what the rest of the world is doing - many countries are already doing it."