Green not helpful word for setting environmental policies

The notion of green computing is an unhelpful one, making it harder for companies to implement carbon reduction policies. That's according to a new report from the Carbon Disclosure Project, which questioned 11 leading enterprises about their environmental policies.

The term 'green' came in for articularly heavy criticism: The report said that the word was an "employee or consumer-friendly way of introducing climate-change topics," but was too vague for general use, lacking "the specific definitions needed to manage carbon and/or other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions." Marieke Beckmann, responsible for communication and corporate partnership at CDP, agreed that the term was too misleading. "Green shouldn't be used," she said.

The report, which was produced in conjunction with IBM, sets out a variety of measures by which companies could set guidelines to reduce carbon emissions, including: setting definitions, appointing a carbon information manager, more detailed electricity billing, league-tables of departmental carbon use, greater use of videoconferencing and IM, more mobile working and a reduction in business travel.

The need to set definitions is a thorny one, as different companies offer different power ratings for servers. Beckmann agreed and said that was a difficulty measuring carbon use and power emissions. "There's no one standard that's applicable across all companies, across all sectors," she said. "Ïn fact, there's no standard that can be applied across one sector," she added.

While accepting that it was stating the obvious to say that to reduce carbon emissions would have to have an accurate definition of carbon emissions in the first place, she said that many organisations didn't have that. "Sometimes, stating the obvious is sometimes a good thing," she said.

Companies who took part in the survey included HBOS, IBM, Lloyds TSB, Tesco and Unilever.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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