ICT's Potential to Reduce GHG Still Outweighs Its Own Emmissions

We noted in a 2008 post about the SMART 2020 report that while ICT emits GHGs, its potential to reduce them in other sectors was 5X greater. Now, a follow-up report - SMARTEer2020 - calculates ICT's leverage at 7X.

"...it is important to recognize that the [ICT] sector contributes to climate change as well. Widespread adoption of ICT devices has led to a rise in their associated GHG emissions; from 2002 to 2011 emissions rose from 0.53 GtCO2e to 0.91 GtCO2e and are projected to rise to 1.27 GtCO2e by 2020. This represents an increase in ICT’s share of total global emissions, increasing from 1.3 percent of global emissions in 2002 to 2.3 percent in 2020. Though these emissions cannot be ignored, ICT provides significant leverage in addressing climate change; the estimated ICT-enabled abatement potential of 9.1 GtCO2e for the sectors and sublevers identified by this report is seven times the size of the sector’s direct emissions."

Original Post

The Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) is an international consortium of companies in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. It's recently-released report SMART 2020: Enabling the Low Carbon Economy in the Information Age bills itself as "the world’s first comprehensive global study of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector’s growing significance for the world’s climate." It makes this bold claim:

"while ICT’s own sector footprint currently two per cent of global emissions will almost double by 2020, this is countered by the sector’s unique ability to monitor and maximise energy efficiency both within and outside of its own sector could cut CO2 emissions by up to five times this amount. This represents a saving of 7.8 Giga-tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) by 2020 – greater than the current annual emissions of either the US or China."

Green ICT insights from SMART 2020