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Could IT Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 16% by 2020?

Clifton Yin's picture
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
  • Member since 2018
  • 44 items added with 23,112 views
  • Dec 19, 2012


The Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), an information and communication technology (ICT) industry partnership, just released a new report that details how expanded use of ICT could cut global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 16.5% by 2020 and offset $1.9 trillion in gross energy and fuel costs. The report, SMARTer2020, was put together by The Boston Consulting Group and also finds ICT’s GHG abatement potential to be the equivalent to more than seven times the ICT sector’s emissions over the same time period. Clearly, ICT can play an important role in saving energy and mitigating climate change.

A GeSI press release summarizes SMARTer2020’s findings:

The new research study identifies GHG abatement potential from ICT-enabled solutions ranging across six sectors of the economy: power, transportation, manufacturing, consumer and service, agriculture, and buildings. Emission reductions come from virtualization initiatives such as cloud computing and video conferencing, but also through efficiency gains such as optimization of variable-speed motors in manufacturing, smart livestock management to reduce methane emissions, and 32 other ICT-enabled solutions identified in the study. Some ICT-driven solutions such as smart electricity grids reap benefits at the national level, whilst others like intelligent building management systems can result in energy – and cost – savings for individual households and businesses.

Unsurprisingly, the power and transportation sectors, respectively, are found to have the highest potential for GHG emission reduction via greater ICT adoption. But the report also finds agriculture – even more so than manufacturing or the consumer and service sector – to be an area with significant potential for greater energy efficiency. “As the inputs required to grow crops emit large quantities of emissions, ICT that allows farmers to accurately assess how much to irrigate and fertilize their crops will lead to emissions abatement,” the report’s executive summary observes. “Systems that reduce the amount of land required to raise livestock and reduce their methane emissions also have significant abatement potential.”

ICT’s climate change mitigation potential is not a recent revelation. As ITIF previously blogged, another GeSI report from earlier this year examined how greater facilitation of a variety of consumer activities through ICT could achieve net energy savings equivalent to 2 percent of several countries’ total energy consumption. Furthermore, as also noted in that blog post, “a 2011 ITIF report, Innovation for Control: Smart Technology to Empower Energy Producers and Users, points out transforming the electricity grid to a smart grid with ICT could lead to economic growth and is a foundational technology in transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy. In fact, ITIF has estimated that $50 billion in smart grid investment over five years in the U.S. could create, on average, 239,000 jobs, with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory estimating that fully deploying a smart grid would directly reduce carbon dioxide emissions within the national electric power sector by 12 percent by 2030.”

Of course, in addition to highlighting the value of ICT from an energy efficiency perspective, SMARTer2020 really drives home the idea that technological innovation will prove essential to addressing climate change. The report actually buildings on GeSI’s SMART2020 study, which projected more modest GHG emissions reductions as a result of ICT at the time of its release in 2008. The difference in the intervening years? Ever improving ICT capabilities, especially in mobile communications and smart devices. Ultimately, ICT in particular and technology in general will prove essential to curbing GHG emissions – stakeholders must work hard to ensure that innovation is central to the climate change debate.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Gunnar Rundgren's picture
Gunnar Rundgren on Dec 19, 2012

Sure, there are some potential savings - of which many will not materialise for one or the other reason. However, with the current pace of expansion of the ICT sector, mobile phones and the cloud the ICT sector itself comes out as a major energy consumer, possibly negating all the benefits it can deliver in other sectors. All the millions of servers, the internet and mobile phone systems alreasy consume a lot, add all the PCs and other gadgets the net effect so far is to increas consumption. There is little evidence that video conferencing over the internet has actually reduced travel, it is rather that the video conference replaces a less resource demanding tele-conference.

Paul Felix Schott's picture
Paul Felix Schott on Dec 21, 2012

Soon all will take note to the sounds and rumbling of  Volcanoes and Earthquakes Around Earth that are Waking Up at a Alarming Rate. Just as they did in 1883 from Krakatoa.
Read well and study on your own after you have read this.
This is not a game or joke our Sun gives off a Solar Wind all day year round if you live in the State of Alaska you see it in the sky above what a sight it is going through our Earth’s Magnet Polls of the North and the South, North Poll. It’s called the Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis.
The day will come when you will be able to see it all over Earth as in the year 1859 Solar Flare, It was the largest in 500 years. Two Astronomer’s Hodgson and Carrington told the World that the Solar Flare made a Geomagnetic Storm reach Earth in hours not days. Back then it gave new meaning to Reach For The Skies from Telegraph Operators. For hours sparks flew from the key board. Even after the Batteries were disconnected. Nov 3 and 4, 2003 had a X40+ Class Solar Flare.
Our Sun’s UV Rays will get stronger as each passing day goes by, read and i will tell you why.
The Great big forest have be stripped from most of the Earth for Greed of Money by the Wicked. The trees are our Main Source of Oxygen on this Plant.
The Forest Trees scrubs the Pollution out of the air and makes Oxygen from the rain and dirt that it grows in.
The Forest Trees do more than just make Oxygen they stop Soil Erosion, just Look at the 1930 Dust Bowl. Greed by our Government taxes led farmers to clear cut all their Forest and farm all the land they were being Tax on. They had to farm it to pay for the Taxes. Why leave the Trees when food crop makes Money. This Did not Help the Depression that effected most all Worldwide. This coming year 2013 more than 100 million will suffer from Malnutrition lack of food and Dehydration lack of water. Many will not make it and die! as have in the last few years.
Soon many will run out of Safe Drinking Water from pollution going into the worlds water supply. The rise in food prices will be global.
In the United States of America alone more than 46+ Million Americans Received Food Stamps and that number is going up every day every year for more than 4 years in a row now.
The Pollution and CO2 Carbon Dioxide go into the Tree Bark as a shield from most bugs so they do not eat the tree.
Less Forest less Oxygen this is why the moon. That has no Oxygen is very cold on the side with out Sun Light, And hot as ever on the side with Sun Light. Way too cold and too hot to live there. You would need at least 10 times the Energy we use on Earth to even live there and life on the Moon would be very short.
With no blank of Oxygen to lessen or reduce the Sun’s UV Rays and Solar Wind they are deadly there on our Moon. Every Mt. Climber and Aircraft Pilot knows the higher you go the thinner the Oxygen and colder it gets.
Just spend a night on a Mt. top above 13,000 feet with no Sun Light and you will see or should i say feel the cold stinging any of your exposed skin. If you are new to Mt. Climbing stay below 10,000Ft. The Astronauts and the Cosmonauts and Fighter Pilots that i have been with for years know this very well, and the Radiation Hazards to humans at High Altitudes.
Soon the Sun’s Solar Wind and UV rays will be way to strong for most to go out in the Sun Light for even a short time. The Geomagnetic Storm to come and the Bad Weather Storms well you have not seen nothing yet and the Sea Level is Rising the Oceans. Many Millions have been affected by Floods in China and Pakistan just last year. In 2005 Over a Thousand dead in New Orleans flood, and the list going on. The sounds and rumbling of Volcanoes and Earthquakes Around Earth are Waking Up at a Alarming rate.
And there shall be famines, and pestilences, and Earthquakes, in divers places such as was not from the beginning of the Creation.
The last 30 years On Earth we have broke all High Temp Records and the temp it is still going up. All the Worlds Ice Glacier are melting at an Accelerating Rate. The Glaciers and Polar Ice Caps store more water than all the Fresh Water Lakes on Earth. Many of them are drying up or water levels are going down past the lowest point every recorded.
The Bad Weather Storms now are Babies compared to what is to come.
They will get even bigger and worse less Oxygen the more UV Rays to the Earth and more Water molecules will evaporate and go up into the Earth’s Atmosphere. Less Oxygen the colder without sun light and hotter with it.
The Sky full of more water vapor molecules, more snow in the winter and more Flash Floods in the Summer. All earth will see way more fires and the Deserts are growing larger.
If every living person on Earth were to Plant A Tree Today we might have a chance.
The Earth’s Atmosphere Blanket surrounding it protects life on Earth as Our Lord and GOD will all that seek Him.
Then it is written when the tree is full it is harvest time. All the Earth will someday burn away.
This is all Foretold in the Bible Read it
and may our Lord Bless all that do so.
The Lord’s Little Helper
Paul Felix Schott
2 Peter 3:10
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the Earth and its works will be burned up.
GOD Bless You and Your Love ones
Give thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ every day.
Earth is at its Limits

The United Nations is now taking a serious look into "Earth's Limits" Earth will very soon be at its Limits of no return for many things including all life on Earth.
If we keep going at this rate we will not have another 20 years to go back to Rio De Janeiro to play. Most all in the Scientific Community said this 20 years ago at the last time Leaders set up this meeting in Rio De Janeiro. Of course on the Tax payers money, and of course they said about the same thing again we need to do something!
There is enough Energy from our Sun to Power all are needs on Earth and more.
Solar Energy
The Fastest growing energy on Earth.
Albert Einstein 100 years ago showed the World it could get
Free Energy, Electric from the SUN. (THE PHOTOVOLTAIC EFFECT).
He won the Nobel Prize  for this.

We still do not teach this to are YOUNG in SCHOOLS why?
Church's all over the Globe have gone Solar why have not are SCHOOLS ?

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