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Scottish Government supports digital technology to lower carbon footprint: Envirodigital prompts question

The 40+ online viewers looking at today’s AmbITion Scotland live webcast also tested out Envirodigital’s new Carbon Footprint Avoided indicator, on the same day that the Scottish Government stated it supports digital technology to lower carbon footprints after Envirodigital prompted questions in the Scottish Parliament today.

The full press release from Scottish Parliament reads:

Dr Bill Wilson MSP

“Responding to questions from Dr Bill Wilson MSP (SNP), the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth has acknowledged the role that digital technology can play in Scotland meeting its climate change targets.

Dr Wilson said, “My questions in the Scottish Parliament today were prompted by discussions with an expert in the field. It appears that digital technology is as yet underutilised. While there are occasions when face-to-face meetings are essential I was surprised to learn just how effective webcasting training events, for example, can be. With a simultaneous online chat facility accompanying webcast events, remote participants can have their questions added to those asked by a live audience and can also interact with each other, to some extent affording them their own ‘networking’ experience, and there are now simple ‘widgets’ to enable organisations to calculate how much carbon they save by not sending their employees to attend events in person. An additional advantage of making events available digitally is that audiences can be significantly larger!

“But it’s not just a question of putting events online. By distributing content digitally rather than in hard copy format, for example, considerable carbon savings can be made. In many cases text documents and DVDs and CDs can be replaced by streamed content or emailed digital files, for example, and considerable carbon savings can be made, especially with regard to their distribution. There are now ways of calculating just how much carbon may be saved in this way, and I hope that Scottish organisations will take advantage of them. I am certainly pleased that the Scottish Government is enthusiastic about advancing such technology.”

Hannah Rudman, the founder of Envirodigital, a business set up to help organisations become greener through the use of digital technology, commented, “Getting digital can certainly help organisations be more environmentally sustainable. Webcasting training events and conferences, using video and audio conferences – making them into digital content – helps eliminate the need for so much business travel.”

Notes to Editors
1. Dr Wilson’s questions and Cabinet Secretary John Swinney’s answers

Q: To ask the Scottish Government whether it considers that digital technology could play a significant role in helping Scotland achieve its carbon reduction targets.

A: Scotland’s future lies in low carbon technologies and greener business. Climate change is a global challenge and one which presents global opportunities. We must therefore seize the moment and take action now to make the transition to a low carbon economy a reality. The Scottish Government believes that digital technologies will indeed play a significant role in helping us meet our carbon reduction targets across a range of sectors, including energy, the built environment, communications and healthcare.

Q: Transport Scotland’s Travel Plan 2010-2013 encourages the use of the use of audio and video conferencing to replace carbon-generating travel. Would the Scottish Government consider more broadly encouraging organisations to provide incentives for their staff and clients to use digital technologies to virtually attend conferences and training events, rather than attend them in person, in order to reduce their carbon emissions?

A: I think Dr Wilson raises a substantial issue and, of course, there is every pressure on ensuring that we more fully utilise, in the business of government and public service, video technology. It can certainly save on cost, it can save on carbon emissions. What it requires is a change in approach and a change in working practice, and the government in many of its interventions encourages that process to ensure that there is a change in working practice to utilise this technology and achieve the objectives set out by Dr Wilson in his question.

2. Organisations mentioned in press release
Transport Scotland and its Travel Plan

3. Related previous release
We’re Halfway There, With Cleaner Air!