Skip to main content

ICT Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Double to 4% by 2020

Friday, 15 Mar 2013

BIO Intelligence Service has released "ICT Sustainability Outlook: An Assessment of the Current State of Affairs and a Path Towards Improved Sustainability for Public Policies". This is a white paper prepared with Alcatel-Lucent. It was completed 15 November 2012, but not released until 6 March 2013, along with a media release.

The report finds that the environmental impact of the ICT sector will increase at a lower rate than the exponential increase in ICT would otherwise suggest, due to efficiency gains. The report estimates global network traffic will increase 35 times by 2020. The report estimates current ICT use contributing 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions (consistent with the first national study conducted in Australia in 2007). The report estimates emissions will increase to 4% by 2020. The authors note that only eight OECD countries have policies to maximize ICT benefit across the economy.

Australia is mentioned only once in the report, in reference to the production of rare earth elements. It is disappointing that Australia's pioneering work on estimating and reducing ICT emissions is not acknowledged. The Australian Computer Society commissioned two studies into ICT emissions and a professional ICT Sustainability course, teaching how to measure and reduce emissions. The course was the first of its kind in the world, with the course materials designed for on-line delivery and made freely available. First run by ACS in February 2009, there is a class of Australian National University masters students undertaking the ANU version of the course (COMP7310).

The report recommends public policy makers:

  1. build intelligently by deploying smart infrastructure and, in particular, the smart grid;
  2. support energy efficient mobile network access;
  3. anticipate and maximise the benefit of the cloud;
  4. encourage and support advanced research;
  5. support industry efforts to harmonise impact assessment methodologies

From: "ICT Sustainability Outlook: An Assessment of the Current State of Affairs and a Path Towards Improved Sustainability for Public Policies", BIO Intelligence Service and Alcatel-Lucent, 15 November 2012