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Climate change fight may mean FE carbon sanctions

Colleges must do more to prepare for a low carbon future, warns a new report by JISC TechWatch, the body promoting innovative use of digital technologies in education.

“The government has put in place a legally binding framework and a set of demanding targets for a low carbon future. The onus is now on public sector organisations, such as universities and colleges, to deliver and the planned use of advanced technology is one of the most important ways of ensuring that we do,” says TechWatch’s director, Gaynor Backhouse.

“Being serious about climate change means taking a long term view. Our reports usually look perhaps five or ten years ahead, this one has looked to 2050 and beyond. Universities and colleges must do far more than a few quick hits afforded by small behavioural changes and interim technology developments. They must start to work together across the sector to implement much bigger plans for a sustainable future, and the report provides some guidance as to how this might be done.”

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The report, Low Carbon Computing: a view to 2050 and beyond, tackles core green issues on the technology horizon. It predicts that in the future colleges and universities may need to produce their own renewable energy as education faces carbon sanctions to help meet climate change targets. The report also warns of the hidden environmental costs associated with ‘Cloud’ computing, and data storage.

Ms Backhouse adds: “Predicting the future accurately is notoriously difficult and this is especially true for low carbon computing. One of the things the TechWatch report does is to think through the key challenges already being felt within the educational community as it tries to respond to increasing pressure to reduce carbon emissions. There are no quick answers, but by considering the future of the technology used by our universities and colleges, the UK can go some way to impact on its energy use and continue to be competitive.”

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