Measuring CO2 emissions is but the first step. More importantly, companies need to reduce those GHGs. Here, IT organizations have already started delivering solutions in the form of products, both hardware and software, that can help companies cut energy and fuel consumption throughout their organization. The list is exhaustive, from software that powers down PCs at night to more energy-efficient hardware to business intelligence software that helps plan more efficient driving routes to telepresence products that reduce the need to travel.
It's worth emphasizing that these IT solutions aimed at reducing emissions can also be cost-savers, which could be particularly important when a cap-and-trade system takes effect. A recently released report from the George C. Marshall Institute predicts that a cap-and-trade system could result in electricity prices jumping 5 to 15 percent by 2015, natural gas prices up 12 to 50 percent, and gasoline prices up 9 to 145 percent. If these predictions are indeed accurate, companies will have all the more incentive to conserve.
I expect the prospect of a cap-and-trade system will cause more than a couple of CEOs to roll their eyes as they contemplate the hassles associated with complying with new, complex legislation. But consider, for a moment, just some of the business risks associated with ignoring the threat of global climate change.
For example, a recent report [PDF] released by Ceres and the Pacific Institute warns that global climate change is exacerbating water scarcity problems around the world.
"Already, China, India, and the western U.S. are seeing growth limited by reduced water supplies from shrinking glaciers and melting snowcaps that sustain key rivers. Meanwhile, agricultural and power plant production have been cut back due to more frequent and more intense heat waves and droughts in large parts of Australia, California, and the southeast U.S.," according to the reporting organizations.