Conference to address the environmental impact of digitalisation

Professor Tom Jackson and Professor Ian-Hodgkinson.

Trade association for information professionals to host event on 12 – 14 May

The Information and Records Management Society (IRMS) will host two of the foremost experts in the field of digital decarbonisation, in what it suggests will be a landmark industry debate regarding the scale of the environmental impact in the race to digital transformation. Professor Tom Jackson and Professor Ian Hodgkinson from Loughborough University will present a keynote during the IRMS Conference, which takes place from 12 – 14 May 2024, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Brighton Metropole.

The presentation on Tuesday 14th May will consider how initiatives such as the UK’s ‘Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy’ have prioritised physical decarbonisation efforts within businesses, whilst the ecological footprint of digitalisation itself remains inadequately addressed. Professor Tom Jackson states: “’In today’s landscape where our digital footprint burgeons alongside the emergence of the metaverse, the substantial environmental toll of digitalisation cannot be ignored. Regrettably, governmental efforts aimed at achieving net-zero emissions have largely overlooked these imminent challenges.”

The keynote will address the power consumption of UK data centres and the 65% of dark data – unused or underutilised information – that is making a substantial contribution to the 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions that is attributed to digitalisation. Earlier this month it was suggested by 8 Billion Trees that the sending just one short email to an individual via a wi-fi connected laptop consumes 3.3 grams CO2. It also points to predictions that the computing (technology) sector will soon consume around 20% of global electricity, due to energy still being produced by fossil fuels.

Tom Jackson (BSc, PhD) is a Professor of Information and Knowledge Management at Loughborough Business School, Loughborough University. His research includes pioneering work on the dark side of digital decarbonisation and the impact on the environment; the first publicly available data carbon forecasting toolkit, which serves as a valuable resource for individuals and organisations embarking on their net-zero journey. He is a Member of the OECD.AI Expert Panel for Compute and Climate, and Chair of the Technical Working Group for Ethics in the Government National Digital Twin Programme and is an Independent Scientific Advisor at the Alan Turing Institute for the BridgeAI programme.

Joining Tom Jackson at the IRMS Conference will be Ian Hodgkinson (BSc, MSc, PhD), a Professor of Strategy at Loughborough Business School, Loughborough University. His research on digital decarbonisation has been instrumental in guiding the critical next steps for the movement and is informing the Ethics Strategy of the National Digital Twin Programme and, on the international stage, feeding into the OECD.AI Compute and the Environment Expert Group.

Chair of the IRMS, Jaana Pinnick, states: “The IRMS is proud to be hosting this important keynote that will both raise awareness of the environmental impact of our actions in the digital world, as well as helping individuals and organisations to own the problem and together chart a course towards a more sustainable future.”

Carrying the theme “Tides of Change”, the IRMS Conference 2024 will focus on helping more than 400 information and records management professionals to keep in step with constantly evolving data, process, technology, policy, and regulatory changes in the modern workplace. The conference is open to anyone concerned with information and records management, regardless of their professional and organisational status or qualifications.

Registration is open and for more information about the conference and available delegate places visit: