Public sector ‘must accelerate move to cloud to cut emissions’

A factory releasing pollution into the air.

Public sector ‘must accelerate move to cloud to cut emissions’ Duncan is an award-winning technology industry analyst, specialising in cloud computing, blockchain, martech and edge computing.


With the UK Government set to announce a new version of its Net Zero Strategy by the end of March, Kainos, a provider of digital services, has highlighted the significant opportunity for public sector bodies to overhaul legacy systems and accelerate their move to the cloud to meet government targets for net zero emissions by 2050. 

In his recently published Net Zero Review, former Energy Minister and current MP Chris Skidmore stated that the UK is falling behind on curbing emissions. In response, the new Net Zero Strategy is expected to outline specific government policies based on Skidmore’s 129 recommendations around decarbonisation. As a direct result, the public sector will come under renewed pressure to review its operations in a bid to meet sustainability targets in the coming weeks.  

Gareth Workman, cloud practice director at Kainos, said: “The public sector will be expected to lead the way in making tangible and measurable cuts to emissions once the Net Zero Strategy is published. But many departments still rely on legacy technology, which wasn’t built with sustainability in mind.

“By putting the insight offered by our Cloud Carbon Reduction Calculator into practice and migrating to cloud, we’ve seen bodies such as Companies House reduce emissions by 94%. There’s never been a better time for public sector departments to propel their cloud journeys, especially if they’re to meet net zero demands and demonstrate quantifiable carbon savings.” 

Major cloud providers have made carbon neutral commitments that the public sector can take advantage of. Amazon has pledged to use 100% renewable energy sources by 2025 and reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040. Microsoft is aiming to be carbon negative by 2030, with a view to offsetting all carbon emissions since 1975 by 2050. By migrating their infrastructure to major cloud providers, the public sector will benefit from these sustainability initiatives by reducing their direct emissions from datacentres, which falls within the Scope 1 category. 

Kainos further asserts that cloud migration is one of the first steps for the public sector in improving sustainability. Other factors to address following migration can include: 

  • Define organisational cloud usage policies to ensure departments only use what they need 
  • Optimise application code to reduce CPU peaks and minimise execution times 
  • Implement scheduled downtime automation to guarantee non-production environments are powered down when not required 
  • Configure data retention policies to purge unnecessary data that takes up valuable cloud resources 

“Reducing public sector carbon emissions is a journey that starts with cloud migration, but it doesn’t need to end there,” added Workman. “Continued cloud optimisation in the weeks, months and years following migration will play a key role in achieving long-term, auditable reductions to the public sector carbon footprint and public purse. Upskilling and reskilling will play a central role in achieving this goal. Internal stakeholders must be equipped with the knowledge and capabilities to drive ongoing efficiencies through the cloud. Migration is just the first step.” 

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