Monday, 23 June 2008

The Role of IT in Managing Emissions

The Climate Group, an independent non-profit organisation, has produced a report (with the help of McKinsey) for the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) looking at the impact of IT on a low carbon economy. It's significant because a lot of ICT companies support GeSI, including BT, Cisco, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Fujitsu Siemens, HP, Intel, Microsoft, Nortel and Sun. The 86-page report makes very interesting reading and I urge you to take a look. It can be downloaded here.

The main thrust of the detailed report is to point out that emissions from ICT in 2002 accounted for around 2% of global emissions (0.53Gt CO2e) but is set to grow at an average annual rate of 5.7% from 2002 to 2020. However, the opportunities identified in the report could lead to emissions reductions of five times the ICT sector's emissions, or 15% of total BAU (business as usual) emissions by 2020.

The areas the report identifies where ICT can help are:
- Dematerialisation - replacing real-world activity with online equivalents, e.g. videoconferencing rather than travel
- Smart buildings - making the design, construction and operation of buildings more efficient
- Smart power - to enable generators to route power more efficiently
- Smart industry - reducing emissions from motors and industrial processes
- Smart transport - more efficient logistics

The report includes a comment very much along one of the themes of The Green IT Review "While the sector plans to significantly step up the energy efficiency of its products and services, ICT’s largest influence will be by enabling energy efficiencies in other sectors, an opportunity that could deliver carbon savings five times larger than the total emissions from the entire ICT sector in 2020".

© The Green IT Review

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