Software giant Microsoft called Monday on the IT industry to reduce its carbon footprint as CeBIT, the world's largest tech fair, kicked off in Germany with a focus on climate change.
"When you look at non-travel power consumption in the world today perhaps PCs and IT is one of the most rapidly growing power consumers on the planet," Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer told a news conference.
Advertisement"We think we have a real responsibility as well as real innovation that can really help focus in the opportunities to reduce power consumption by the IT industry."
Ballmer trumpeted what he said were Microsoft's own efforts to lower its customers' as well as its own energy consumption.
An accompanying video included shots of mountains and lakes and Microsoft executives talking against a background of trees and waterfalls.
Other firms among CeBIT's 5,500 exhibitors were also making much of their green credentials for the trade fair which opens its doors to the public on Tuesday.
But Greenpeace was on hand to sort out what it called the "greenwash" from the genuine.
The environmental pressure group vowed in Hanover to "cut through the corporate green speak and see which companies and products are on the cutting edge of environmental innovation."
Worldwide Internet use needs the equivalent of 14 power stations to power all the PCs and servers, producing the same amount of carbon emissions as the entire airline industry, according to German magazine Stern.
And for consumers, and in particular for businesses, rising electricity prices make using greener technology not also better for the planet but also for the wallet.
Germany's biggest web hosting company for instance, Berlin-based Strato -- home to 3.5 million websites -- uses the same amount of electricity as a small town, and power is the firm's single biggest cost item, Stern says.
In going green CeBIT organisers have teamed up with the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, a group comprising leading tech giants like Intel, Google and Microsoft trying to lessen the industry's carbon footprint.
And exhibitors at CeBIT will be getting in on the act.
Deutsche Telekom's stand will be 100 percent powered by renewable energy, while German PC maker Fujitsu Siemens will present "Green PCs, intelligent cooling concepts, low power consumption and innovative power management."
IBM, meanwhile, plans to unveil an emissions-free computing centre model that uses energy recycling, relying on a "smart heating and cooling circuit based on an innovative water-cooling system implemented at chip level."
Monday evening will see the fair opened by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Relations between the host country and Sarkozy are rumoured to have been less than warm in recent weeks, but France is co-host at this year's CeBIT with 150 exhibitors flying the tricolore and showing off high-tech a la francaise.
Sarkozy and Merkel were due to hold a working dinner after the opening ceremony aimed at clearing the air after talk of a fall-out over the French president's project for a new Mediterranean Union.
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