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Fujitsu calls for carbon standards in outsourcing

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Standards should be set about how businesses account for the carbon footprint of outsourced work, Fujitsu Services has said.

The call comes after its research found three-quarters of chief information officers believe they should account for the carbon footprint of operations they have already outsourced.

Some 76 of the 100 CIOs surveyed by IT services firm Fujitsu Services had this viewpoint, while 24 expected the IT contractor to take on the burden. But many businesses are still failing to account for IT at all in their carbon footprint, the research said.

Fujitsu said that client firms still booking the carbon emissions of outsourced work would lead to an overstatement of the total impact on the environment. It said a standard should be set so that businesses do not have to be over-cautious on the matter, and instead know what is required of them.

An overstatement of carbon emissions would be the result of the less efficient running of IT by end-user businesses, explained Juliet Silvester, head of environmental programs at Fujitsu Services. She said greater scale enabled Fujitsu and other outsourcers to offer a greener setup than clients could on their own.

"If outsourcers take on the carbon footprint of their customers we are presented with an interesting conundrum as a company," she said. "Our carbon footprint will always grow as we grow. As we take on the IT operations of more customers so we add the carbon contribution of those operations to our own. However, because we run things more efficiently, the rise in our footprint should be less than the fall in theirs and overall emissions therefore reduced."

Worryingly, many businesses are still not measuring the contribution of IT to their carbon footprint, according to the survey. Only 36 percent of those in manufacturing and 32 percent of those in retail, distribution and transport measured the impact of IT. The financial services sector was more positive, with 68 percent measuring the impact.

Fujitsu said it was "keen to open an industry wide debate" on the issue, with the aim of creating a common set of principles governing who owns the carbon footprint of outsourced IT and in what circumstances.

It said its approach is based on lean management theories developed in Japan, and seeks to drive out waste including that related to time, resources and energy consumption. It includes full 'green measures' in its calculations of an organization's IT effectiveness.

Projections for one customer, moving from its own data center to a Fujitsu low-emissions data center, show a 22 percent fall in CO2 emissions from 710 to 556 tons per year.

Computerworld UK



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