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BA CIO blasts greenwashing "bollocks"

Plane nonsense
Thu May 07 2009, 16:21

BRITISH AIRWAYS' message to the IT world? Stop all this greenwashing cobblers, stop pointing the finger at the airline industry and get your own 'not-so-green' houses in order.

The blunt remarks were made by BA's chief information officer, Paul Coby, at the Green IT '09 conference in London this morning, where he urged IT firms to cut the crap and offer clearer guidance about going green, rather than just waffling off with a load of hype and spin. Coincidentally, it's a view the INQ itself has also taken.

“I have been to several green conferences in the UK and abroad and on the whole they are quite long on the corporate and supplier bollocks but short on practical guide of how to do this stuff,” grumbled Coby, adding BA was working hard to lower its own carbon emissions.

“Working out your green IT emissions is not easy – lots of people who say they will help but you have to spend a lot of time getting that right,” he said, blasting the industry for its ‘do-as-I-say-don’t-do-as-I-do’ attitude.

Coby lamented the bad rep airlines tend to have when it comes to environ-mental issues, noting, “green and BA are often not mentioned in the same sentence and usually not favourably.” This, said Coby, was a little unfair, claiming his firm was one of the first big airlines to really push for carbon trading (offsetting one’s carbon footprint with green initiatives) as well as a real reduction in green house gas emissions.

Coby reckons BA has a 50 per cent CO2 reduction target by 2050, which may seem a long way off, but the firm also plans to stop increases in its emissions by 2013 and drive them down by 2020. A bold, and easier said than done statement.

Taking a pot shot at the tech industry which cleaves to green only when it can afford to, Coby said “the acid test is if we take green issues seriously in very challenging times,” like the current credit crunch for instance.

Dispelling some myths about the industry with the highest emission levels, Coby reminded his audience the IT industry gave off about as much nasty Co2 as the entire airline industry and what’s worse; its emission rate was growing faster than air transport emissions.

And when it comes to gas, one really shouldn’t overlook what livestock are doing to, er, let rip on the ozone according to Coby, “The percentage of green house gases from transport is about 14 percent which is the same as agriculture – flatulent cows and things.”

But just as the INQ was gaining some admiration for the straight talking Mr. Coby, the BA executive engaged in a bit of smoke-and-mirrors spin of his own. Claiming a key element in BA’s strategy for chopping its carbon footprint down would hail from efforts within its IT department.

Trouble is, BA’s IT only really accounts for about one per cent of the company’s emissions, a miniscule number when compared to the amount burned off as fuel by its whopping aircraft fleet.

Oh well, even BA is allowed to wing a bit of plane hypocrisy once in a while. µ

See Also
The hypocrisy of Earth Day exposed

 

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