IT to cut global carbon emissions by 6bn tonnes by 2020
Wider use of Information Technology in energy generation, transport, building and industry could cut carbon footprint equivalent to annual US emissions
IT could help cut carbon emissions by 5.8 billion tonnes of CO2 against business as usual levles by 2020, a figure roughly equivalent to the annual emissions of the USA.
That is the conclusion of a major new study from analyst firm IDC, which argues that deploying 17 core technologies across four major economic sectors - energy generation & distribution, transport, buildings, and industry - could deliver deep cuts in global carbon emissions.
Roberta Bigliani, research director at IDC Energy Insights, said IT form the basis of many practical CO2 reduction solutions currently being considered by policy experts and business leaders.
"Any goals to reduce energy consumption, for example, will be accelerated by using network-based solutions as a foundation," she said. "Similarly, ICT can enable more effective monitoring and management of energy use in many key sectors of a nation's economy. Although ICT is not a pancea, its full potential has not yet been put to use."
Smart grid technologies, intelligent transport systems, building management systems and video conferencing were all highlighted by the report as having the potential to deliver deep cuts in carbon emissions.
In addition, the report only analyses potential emission reductions in G20 nations, adding that further cuts could be delivered through the wider roll out of IT-based solutions in developing countries.
A delegation from international IT body the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will travel to Copenhagen this week in an attempt to persuade delegates to include IT in any political agreement finalised at the talks.
The group is lobbying for IT projects to be included under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) carbon offsetting scheme - a move which would enable IT projects in developing countries to sell carbon credits based on the emission reductions they deliver.
The new report focused on the economy-wide emission reductions IT can help deliver, although Chris Ingle, associate vice president of Consulting at IDC acknowledged that the carbon footprint of core IT equipment - data centres and communications infrastructure - will also need to be reduced.
"Any plan for reducing carbon emissions should include an evaluation of the emissions from core ICT infrastructure," he said. "At the same time, ICT itself needs to optimise at all levels. In addition to the rack and data centre, planners need to consider the use of energy efficient technologies in their infrastructure as a whole, including client and print."
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