TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My question is to the Minister for Information
and Communication Technology. Can the minister inform the house about any green
initiatives that will create investment in the local information and
communications technology industry?
Hon. T. C. THEOPHANOUS (Minister for Information and
Communication Technology) — I thank the member for her question. It may not be
evident, but the use of ICT (information and communications technology) is one
of the biggest greenhouse gas issues that we have. An enormous amount of carbon
is produced as a result of the use of ICT, especially computers.
Mr Barber interjected.
Hon. T. C. THEOPHANOUS — Worldwide it is about 2 per cent,
which is a very significant amount.
Mr Barber — Two per cent in Victoria?
Hon. T. C. THEOPHANOUS — It is 2 per cent worldwide — listen
to what I say. This is an enormous amount of carbon compared to other areas. The
government is very keen to try to reduce the amount. Even the members of the
Greens use computers, so they are contributing at least in that area to
increasing the carbon footprint.
The Brumby government is trying to ensure that going forward we
can reduce the carbon imprint of this particular industry. I was very pleased to
be involved with an organisation called Climate Savers Australia.
It is an initiative involving a group of consumers and ICT
organisations working together to increase energy efficiency in computers and in
new technology. I have to say that this comes down to two sets of issues for
this industry. One set of issues relates to the hardware and the technology that
is being used.
Unfortunately much of the hardware in computers at the moment
has a significant amount of waste in relation to energy use — probably about 50
per cent. That is dissipated in the form of heat through the transformers and so
forth. Producing new green computers is therefore an important part of reducing
the amount of energy consumed by those computers. The production of greener
computers costs about $30 more per computer. This is something which will
hopefully decrease over time. Hopefully more and more people will start choosing
to buy computers which use less energy, because they will be a big part of the
energy consumption going forward.
The second element is behavioural — it is about whether you
turn off your computer and some misinformation. For example, a lot of people
think that leaving your computer on screen saver is a way of using less energy,
but in fact you are using energy while it is on screen saver. It is much better
for the computer to be put into a sleep function so that it actually goes to
sleep rather than being used the other way. There is an educational element and
a behavioural element alongside changing the technology.
I want to mention that Climate Savers Australia is not the only
organisation working towards this. The government has provided over $2 million
to the Byteback program, where we are buying back unwanted and used computers in
a safe and environmentally responsible way. I want to also indicate two other
examples of local businesses that have been involved in this green initiative.
Tradeslot is presenting the CarbonNavigator platform that combines carbon
footprinting issues and the world of sustainability with finance and investment
It is a way of reducing the carbon footprint through
technology. Another innovative Victorian company called Envision IT has been on
show speaking about the green TravelSmart car pooling initiatives and Envigreen,
its consulting and specialist software development service. These are very
important initiatives using technology going forward to reduce the carbon
footprint and maintain our responsibilities to the environment.