On Nov 25th, my colleague Stephen Harper blogged about the role of Information Communications Technology (ICT) in combating climate change, and outlined some policies that Intel, through DESC, are pursuing to allow the solutions potential of ICT to be realized.I thought it would be helpful to provide some background information about those ‘recent studies’ that have been looking at the role of ICT in combating climate change. Early in 2008, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) published its report, “Information and Communications Technology: the Power of Productivity. How ICT Sectors Are Transforming the Economy While Driving Gains in Energy Productivity”. ACEEE studied the correlation of the growth of the Internet and ICT markets in the US and the increased energy efficiency of the US economy over the last several decades and found a statistically significant relationship. The report concluded that, “For every extra kilowatt-hour of electricity that has been demanded by ICT technologies, the U.S. economy increased its overall energy savings by a factor of about 10. Thus, these productivity gains have led to huge net savings in both energy and economic costs. The extraordinary take away from this finding is that ICT is a net saver of energy across our economy.” Another 2008 report by the World Wildlife Fund, “IT Strategy for CO2 Reductions“, focuses on Europe and concludes that ICT strategies could reduce up to 25 percent of Europe’s climate emissions. The most recent report, by The Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) takes a global view of the role of ICT as part of a climate solution and gives a number of examples of how ICT’s energy efficiency benefits can help reduce society’s carbon footprint. That report, “Smart 2020: Enabling the Low Carbon Economy in the Information Age“, concludes that, “ICT is a key sector in the fight against climate change and could enable emissions reductions of 7.8 Gt CO2e in 2020, or 15% of business as usual emissions.” This represents 5X the footprint of the ICT industry in savings. Their recent US addendum analysis puts the potential in the US at as much as 22 percent of US emissions in 2020. The Economist is running a great story about ICT and climate change that also covers this positive impact effect in their The World in 2009 Special Edition. Check it out here. Oh…and speaking of The Economist; they just started their latest online debate sponsored by Intel. The topic is the role of offsets in carbon cap and trade markets. If you want to join the debate, click here.. If you want to see what our Intel execs have to say on the topic,click here.
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