Australian business leads the rest of the world when it comes to green issues and having an environmental policy in place, according to a global survey covering eight countries. The IBM survey interviewed nearly 1400 small and midsized businesses (between 50 and 500 employees) in seven countries and one region. They were Australia, India, France, US, Brazil, Germany, Benelux (Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg), and China, about energy efficiency and environmental concerns. Out of this total, 120 Australian small and medium businesses were surveyed. It found 55 percent of Australian SMEs surveyed have an environmental policy in place, leading the international average of 44 percent. However, 57 percent of Australian SMEs surveyed have not made any changes in their business operations over the past year to reduce energy costs or have plans to make any changes in 2008. In effect, only 33 percent of Australian SMEs interviewed have made changes to reduce energy costs during the past year or plan to during 2008 compared to 47 percent internationally. The top three changes to be made by Australian SMEs in 2008 include turning off all non-essential equipment during business hours, using more energy-efficient IT equipment and purchasing energy-efficient lighting. More than half (58 percent) of Australian SME respondents stated they are concerned about the environment, yet only 38 percent indicated it affects decisions on reducing energy usage compared to 47 percent internationally. In fact, 47 percent of Australian businesses surveyed don't know the percentage of their total energy costs associated with running their IT equipment compared with 33 percent internationally. Earlier this year, IBM Australia commissioned a survey examining the practices and attitudes of large Australian enterprises towards Green IT. Interestingly, the survey found strong similarities between the two markets. For example, when it comes to energy consumption, 43 percent (compared with 47 percent of SMEs) said their organisation's IT department was not aware of its energy usage. Also, 61 percent of enterprises (compared with 55 percent of SMEs) stated that their organisation has an environmental strategy and/or policy that covers IT infrastructure, already in place. Although nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of businesses have an environmental policy or strategy in place, little more than a third of respondents (36 percent) believe the reduction of carbon emissions is a high priority for their business (compared with 38 percent of SMEs). According to Gartner, the global ICT industry accounts for more than two percent of global carbon emissions. Australia's carbon emissions total 522.2 million tonnes per year. Of that, 7.94 million tonnes comes from ICT use by Australian businesses, according to a study released recently by the Australian Computer Society. Those emissions come from technology such as PCs, servers, air-conditioning, mobile phones and printers.
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