Global Goal 13 and the ICT industry’s role in reducing carbon emissions – part 3 (3/3)

Global Goal 13 and the ICT industry’s role in reducing carbon emissions – part 3 (3/3)
Jens Malmodin

Senior specialist Env Impacts and LCA

The latest Ericsson Mobility Report summarizes a research paper Ericsson has published that shows ICT solutions could help reduce global GHG emissions by up to 15 percent by 2030, which amounts to around 10 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e), more than the current carbon footprint of the EU and US combined.

ICT is in a unique position to create efficiencies and open up new ways of working and organizing things that help other industrial sectors to reduce their GHG emissions. A common denominator to these solutions is the maturity of mobile broadband and the emerging wide-ranging application of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Examples include:

  • utilities – Smart metering for homes as well as building energy management and smart grid solutions help households and building managers reduce their energy consumption. They also allow for the use of more small-scale local renewable energy sources (for example, solar panels) and help utility companies to better plan and optimize the grid to reduce losses and the need for fossil fuel based back-up power.
  • services and industry – Smart service solutions include services for the healthcare, education and governmental sectors and can provide these services at a lower cost. This enables socioeconomic development in parts of the world where it’s needed the most. Smart services shift the focus from owning and using products sparsely to using services that provide the same function but only when needed. This increases the efficiency of products and ultimately natural resources, with car pools as one example.
  • travel and transportation – Smart travel and transportation solutions enable better route and traffic optimization, improved vehicle and fleet management and can also support the shift to low emission alternatives like public transport.
  • work – Smart work includes tele-/flexi-working/commuting and online conferencing and collaboration and reduces the need for physical travel and office space.
  • agriculture – Smart agriculture includes solutions for soil monitoring, weather forecasting and smart watering systems. Also included are solutions for managing large numbers of livestock, as well as monitoring equipment, which reduces overlaps when harvesting and getting data to pro-actively diagnose problems and coordinate fleets.

ICT used with the intention to reduce GHG emissions can be a vital part of the low carbon economy. ICT in itself does not reduce GHG emissions but using it in smart ways does.

Figure 1: ICT’s potential enablement effect (GHG emission reductions) in other sectors. See further the latest Ericsson Mobility Report (November 2015) for the whole story.

This research is based on the potential that we see now but with greater investment and focus. There can be an accelerating effect with ICT! Many of these services and solutions also provide a cost efficient way for developing countries to build up, for example, governmental, banking, health and education services and solutions.

We are at an inflection point, and the decisions today will set the 21st century infrastructure as well as the foundations for future ways of working and living.

For more information, please read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.


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