Information Systems for Environmental Sustainability

IT, Resource Productivity, Environmental Preservation, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Learning from the Public Sector

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A paper entitled “The Carbon Neutral Public Sector” by Amanda Ball and colleagues published in PAR (2009, 11:5) has this to say about public sector efforts to be carbon neutral:

This paper argues for research into the effectiveness of government strategies for a ‘carbon neutral public sector’. We review initiatives in three OECD countries: New Zealand, Australia and the UK. In all jurisdictions, government agencies have consistently stressed ‘leading by example’ as a rationale for adoption. ‘Direct mandate’ by the Prime Minister (NZ); ‘organic development’ from wider central government sustainability initiatives (UK); and a more ‘laissez faire’ approach by Australian Federal and State Governments, were identified as the general pathways leading to implementation. Our assessment indicates:

a lack of understanding of the implementation process for carbon neutrality;

a need to identify and critically examine the ‘offset threshold’ at which mitigation efforts cease and offsetting is adopted;

an absence of any evaluation of the ‘leading by example’ rationale;

a lack of inter-country comparisons;

a gap in understanding the relationship with economic and social aspects of sustainability;

and a need to evaluate the utility of core government departments as the focus of carbon accounting.

We urge colleagues to consider research in this area with a view to contributing to the interdisciplinary solutions which we believe are required. 

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Author: nigelpm

Associate Professor of Information Systems, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan - Helping organizations to navigate digital transformation.

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