“Many local authorities have been in an arms race to declare an earlier net-zero target,” said Mark Apsey, managing director of renewable energy and efficiency company Ameresco, speaking at IoT World Congress in Barcelona in May 2022.
The problem is scale. Some authorities are setting “hugely ambitious” targets, according to Apsey. Manchester City Council has set itself a net-zero target of 2038, Carmarthenshire County Council in South Wales has set a target of 2030, while Bristol City Council has gone even further. Its 2030 target includes reducing the entire city’s carbon, including private residential and commercial sectors, as well as council buildings and partners.
While all of these authorities have addressed the obvious, such as installing LED lighting, insulation and so on, there are some significant challenges in the IT department. The impact of datacentres has been a concern for some time, and for a while the solution seemed to be cloud-based computing. But, of course, that’s just shifting the problem. Data still has to be stored somewhere, and while organisations look for efficiencies in services, through IoT strategies for example, that data is multiplying. With that comes cost and carbon.
It comes as no great surprise that a recent survey by energy company E.On and The local government chronicle found that 53% of UK councils are not confident about hitting their net-zero targets. The challenge is huge and multifaceted.