New guidance is being developed on how ICT companies and customers should calculate the carbon footprint of ICT products and services. A key part of this process is to get public comments on the draft guidance and two chapters on desktop managed services (DMS) and telecommunications network Services (TNS) are now available for comment.
Back in March I reported on this collaboration between The Carbon Trust (the UK government’s low-carbon agency), the World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) – the two organisations behind the Greenhouse Protocol Initiative - and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), responsible for the Smart 2020 report. NGOs, government experts and academics and ICT companies are also involved.
The aim is to develop sector guidance for the greenhouse gas assessment of ICT products (including goods and services) to support the GHG Protocol Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard. The guidance is intended to be used as a practitioners guide to measuring emissions. The overall structure of the ICT guidance is shown below.
The draft standard for desktop managed services was published on 28 October and for telecommunications networks on 9 November.
Given the heavyweight organisations behind them, these are going to be the de facto standards for ICT footprinting, so there’s a lot at stake.
The documents are comprehensive and detailed (30 pages for DMS, 54 pages for TNS). The standards need to be clear and thorough, but after a quick look through it strikes me that they will not be easy to implement. In the case of DMS, it’s going to be primarily down to suppliers and will depend on the type of service required and the nature of the customer, as well as relying on information from other product and service providers. There’s going to be a law of diminishing returns in terms of the level of detail used for a particular assessment. But then again, these documents are guidelines for the definitive analysis, it’s down to companies themselves to decide how detailed their assessment needs to be.
There’s more information here. If you want to make any comment I’m afraid you will need to be quick – consultation apparently closes on Friday December 5th (the 5th isn’t a Friday, but I guess this is the last week for comment). More chapters of the draft guidance are due to be released for public comment in December and there will also be a webinar for discussion.