Thursday, 26 November 2009

Green mobile manifesto

The GSMA, in collaboration with The Climate Group, has released a report called “Mobile’s Green Manifesto”, which aims to set out how the mobile industry can contribute to the fight against global warming.  It also makes some policy recommendations, for governments in general and the Copenhagen climate change discussions in particular, to help fulfil mobile’s potential as an enabler in reducing emissions.

The industry has already laid out goals, the main one being a reduction in total global greenhouse gas emissions per connection by 40% by 2020 (compared to 2009).  The plan is that in the next 12-24 months, the industry will also agree a mechanism for measuring emissions, with a view to making a commitment to becoming carbon neutral.  Mobile connections are expected to increase by 70% by 2020, but the industry expects total emissions to remain constant.  Apparently the total emissions are equivalent to the whole of the Netherlands.


At the user end, the operators will work with handset vendors to reduce handset energy use by 40% by 2020.  And operators will also work towards a 40% drop in life-cycle emissions of network equipment components by 2020.

In terms of enablement, mobile technologies are already being used to deliver smart solutions in a variety of sectors, including enabling individuals to monitor their own carbon footprint, for example through smart meters and associated devices. 

The GSMA believes that the industry could enable greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to twice the emissions of the United Kingdom in 2020. These emission reductions would originate in sectors such as power, buildings, transportation and logistics, and dematerialisation.

Among the policy issues that the GSMA wants considered are:

  • Including mobile solutions in policies around smart grids, buildings and transport.

  • Aligning national and regional methodologies to measure the mobile sector’s environmental performance with those being developed by ETSI and ITU.

  • Supporting broadband infrastructure deployment, particularly of energy efficient networks (I think planning permission is the issue here).

  • Encouraging collaboration between the mobile and other ICT sectors and the transport, buildings and power sectors, particularly around interoperability standards.

  • Greening operations in the public service, e.g. through embedded, mobile-enabled smart building technologies in public buildings.

  • Building awareness of mobile technologies that could help reduce carbon emissions.

  • Incentivising the increased deployment of embedded mobile solutions in smart grids, buildings and transport.

This is a very useful report – you can read it here.  Clearly the mobile sector has a significant part to play in delivering all sorts of smart technology, although it will also be competing with a range of other communications technologies, not least the ubiquitous growth of broadband.

For me, though, what lets the ‘manifesto’ down is that whilst the industry calls on policy makers to help them in their enablement role (which will inevitable mean lots more business), only now is the industry collectively addressing its own emissions.  Targets start from this year, so achievements are yet to be seen.  My guess is that the industry would get a lot more support from policy makers if it had started its collective actions a year or two ago.

© The Green IT Review

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