European Commission powers up green IT strategy

New action plan will aim to establish common energy-efficiency metrics and industry-wide emission targets

The European Commission last week called on the IT industry to step up efforts to cut emissions, announcing plans for a wide-ranging green IT strategy designed to ensure economy-wide emission reductions of 15 per cent by 2020.

Announcing the new strategy, which is to be formally adopted in the second half of this year, commissioner for information society and media Viviane Reding said that while the IT sector had already made significant commitments to reduce its environmental impact, it still had "enormous untapped potential for saving energy right across the economy".

"I would recommend to the IT sector to show the way for the rest of the economy by reducing its own carbon footprint by 20 per cent by 2015," she said. "I see from the response of European IT companies to the Commission's ongoing work that Europe is already well ahead in using IT for greening the economy."

According to the Commission, IT technologies have the potential to cut economy-wide carbon emissions by up to 15 per cent by 2020, primarily through improved monitoring and management of energy use in factories, offices and homes. It added that smart metering trials had already shown that domestic energy savings of up to 10 per cent can be achieved simply by making people more aware of the energy they are using.

The Commission also estimated that IT-enabled systems had the potential to reduce energy consumption of buildings in the EU by up to 17 per cent and carbon emission from transport logistics by more than a quarter.

The Commission said that its new strategy would set out a number of " concrete measures" to promote IT-enabled emission reductions. These are expected to include moves to get the IT industry to agree to common benchmarks for measuring energy-efficiency claims, the establishment of EU-wide smart metering specifications, and initiatives to encourage greater co-operation between the IT sector and other energy-intensive industries.

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