The UK-based environmental organisation, Global Action Plan, has in a report, claimed that computer servers are as great a threat to the climate as SUVs or the global aviation industry.
According to Trewin Restorick, the director of the group, the server has same carbon footprint as your average SUV doing 15 miles to the gallon.
Restorick further goes on to say in the report titled "An Inefficient Truth" that with over a billion computers on the planet, the global IT sector is annually responsible for about two percent of human carbon dioxide emissions, a similar figure to the global airline industry.
He says that the energy consumption is driven largely by vast amounts of customer and user data that are stored on the computer servers in most businesses, and adds that the rate at which data storage is growing surpasses the growth in the airline industry.
The group came to its conclusions after undertaking a survey of some of the largest businesses in the UK in an attempt to find out how aware the industry is of its carbon footprint.
The survey revealed that more than half of the IT professionals surveyed believed their environmental impact was "significant".
The other facts that surfaced through the survey were as follows:
· 86 percent of them do not know the carbon footprint of their activities
· Two thirds of the departments they work for are not responsible for paying their own energy bills
· Over half do not even see those bills
The survey also revealed that considerable amounts of electricity could be saved by more efficient data storage: Sixty percent of the departments said they were using less than half their storage capacity and 37 percent said they are storing data indefinitely.
Restorick said that simply increasing the efficiency of energy use and data storage could easily cut 30 percent of power use in businesses.
Global Action Plan, therefore called on the British Government to review its policies on long-term data storage to take into account the environmental implications and to encourage businesses to only keep the data they need to save.
The report is published as a major UN conference about climate change opens in Bali, Indonesia.