Telenor is one of the sponsors of a comprehensive international report that shows that information and communications technology (ICT) could contribute to reduce global emissions of CO2 by as much as 15 per cent by 2020.
In addition to the environmental gains, the ICT industry could also deliver energy efficiency savings to global businesses of over NOK 4000 billion (EUR 500 billion).
The report, which is published by The Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative, is entitled: ‘SMART 2020: enabling the low carbon economy in the information age’. This is the first comprehensive global study of the information and communications technology sector’s growing significance for the world’s climate.
McKinsey & Company, which has conducted the supporting analysis of the report show that the ICT’s own sector footprint will almost double by 2020. This is however countered by ICT’s unique opportunity to monitor and maximise energy efficiency and help other sectors reduce their emissions. Tele-working and video-conferencing are increasingly commonplace and contribute to reduce travel, while virtualisation contributes to replace physical products and services.
However, far greater opportunities for emission savings exist in applying ICT to global infrastructure and industry. Smart buildings, smart logistics and smart electricity grids can contribute significantly to reduce energy consumption across the globe. In total, the ICT sector has the potential to cut CO2 emissions by up to five times the amount that itself will emit in the period up to 2020. This represents a saving of 7.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) by 2020 – greater than the current annual emissions from either the US or China.
Breaking down that figure we see that improved logistics, e.g. by efficient planning of routes of delivery, could save up to 1.5 billion tonnes; data networking inside “smart” electrical grids to manage demand and reduce consumption could save up to 2 billion tonnes; and computer-enabled “smart buildings”, in which lighting and ventilation systems turn themselves off if nobody is around, could save up to 1.7 billion tonnes.
Low carbon society
“For Telenor, this is confirmation that we have a significant role to play in our future low carbon society. The report also provides important input with relation to our own priorities. We have a responsibility for reducing the energy consumption of our activities – but also a significant opportunity to help our customers reduce their own emissions and also their energy costs,” said Jon Erik Haug, Head of Telenor’s Climate Change Programme.