The UK data centre has finally been recognised as a specific industry by the government when it comes to climate change agreements (CCAs).

In his Autumn Statement last year, chancellor George Osborne said the data centre industry would have its own CCA like around 50 other industries since CCAs began in 2001. The new CCA for data centres has now come into force after years of campaigning by the data centre sector to be formally recognised as an industry.

The new CCA is seen by data centres as formal recognition by government that the data centre sector "exists" and is a significant contributor to the UK economy, growth and jobs. Emma Fryer, associate director of climate change programmes at industry body techUK, said: "In contrast to other EU countries, the UK has been slow to recognise the importance of a thriving data centre industry to a country's economic health.

"However that has changed with the Treasury recognising the need to protect future investment and growth by, at least partially, levelling the playing field for UK operators competing with their counterparts overseas."

Climate change agreements are negotiated between government and energy intensive sectors. CCA participants are offered energy efficiency targets with the incentive of a reduction or exclusion from liability for specified carbon taxes.

The aim is to ensure that energy intensive industries are minimising energy consumption through the implementation of energy efficiency measures, to help the UK meet its overall carbon reduction targets. Because CCAs, says TechUK, accommodate growth by focusing on energy efficiency instead of net reductions, they are particularly suited to drive efficiency improvements in the data centre sector.

Andrew Jay, chairman of the Data Centre Council at techUK, said: "We are now recognised legally as key contributors to the UK's digital economy and an important sector in our own right. Gaining a CCA should help improve the energy performance and efficiency of our sector across the board."

The CCA stipulates that data centre operators will have to make a 30 percent reduction in their energy consumption by implementing a range of efficiency measures. This will help reduce their overall energy costs.