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Wednesday, 25 March 2009 15:30

Too many in denial about carbon management, but Australia ahead of the pack

Australian businesses, it seems, are making more rapid progress than their counterparts in other countries, particularly the UK, in planning ahead for the effects of carbon pricing.

A recent Gartner survey of businesses – those with 1,000 or more employees – in 11 countries, found that 28 percent of Australian businesses were fairly well advanced in their planning for carbon pricing, compared with less than eight percent in the UK and significantly higher than the global average of 18.3 percent.

IT professionals responsible for "green IT" programs were interviewed for the survey, with the majority saying they were unsure whether their enterprises were considering carbon pricing.

The survey found that 28 percent planning for carbon pricing in Australia was a considerably higher proportion than the U.K. where fewer than 8 percent are considering it in their plans, and also higher than the global average of 18.3 percent.
According to the Gartner report, Australia has made the most rapid progress overall in the implementation of carbon reporting, tracking or management software in the last 15 months, and Gartner expects that to continue during the next 18 months, with a high proportion anticipating having systems in place during the next 18 months. Gartner says this is explained by the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting System (NGERS) and Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) legislation.

 Of the IT professionals interviewed, 36 per cent of them who were responsible for green IT programs in enterprises said it was possible, or they didn’t know, if carbon pricing was influencing their organisation’s planning for the next 24 months. A total of 45.7 per cent of respondents said that carbon pricing was not influencing their organisation’s planning, while 18.3 per cent said it was influencing their organisation’s planning over the next two years.

Gartner says the survey results indicate that for most countries, the percentage of enterprises planning ahead for carbon pricing goes beyond those obliged to consider it under established regulations.

However, Gartner advises IT management teams that haven’t already done so, to start building the processes and information systems to gather the necessary data as this can be time-consuming and organisations are likely to be subject to carbon reporting and pricing in the future.

Research VP at Gartner, Simon Mingay, says that while the number of enterprises using or planning to use carbon tracking systems exceeds those legally required to do so, given the inevitable requirements to support carbon reporting in the future, the percentage of enterprises preparing is low.

“Regardless of actual or anticipated regulations, midsize and large enterprises should at least be building carbon information systems, because, whether in a developed or developing economy, pressure will come down the supply chain to be transparent about carbon emissions.”

Mingay said the survey provided some noteworthy responses from individual countries when respondents asked if the possibility of carbon pricing is influencing their organisation’s planning for the next 24 months.
The U.K. and France recorded some of the lowest percentages at 7.9 per cent and 10.5 per cent, respectively, while in India and China, 21.1 per cent and 20 per cent of enterprises, respectively, indicated that carbon pricing was influencing planning.
Mingay says Gartner this is particularly surprising for the U.K. given that the country’s Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) goes into effect in 2010 and is estimated to affect 5,000 enterprises.

Gartner asked the IT manager about their carbon reporting, tracking and management systems, as well as their intentions to implement or extend such systems.

The results, according to Gartner, showed that, as a region, Western Europe is best prepared, with 32 per cent saying that they have some kind of system in place — twice as many as the Asia/Pacific region or the U.S.
However, Gartner says there were some stark contrasts with 2.6 per cent of French enterprises, compared with 74.4 per cent of German enterprises having such systems in place. Most of those enterprises with systems in place had in-house developments (mostly spreadsheets).

Mingay sounds a warning note for enterprises all over the world, saying they need to get more serious about greenhouse gas reporting.

According to Mingay, despite the lack of specific regulations, midsize and large enterprises in developed economies need to recognise that they will be paying for their emissions at some point — “it’s just a matter of when, how much and through what kind of mechanism.”

“Regardless of the recession, enterprises will find themselves under increasing pressure from stakeholders, including investors and customers, to be more transparent about emissions and reduction programs,” Mingay concludes.

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