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A major gathering of businesses and policymakers—held alongside the ongoing UN climate talks in Bonn—has heard how Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can play a central role in tackling climate change.

The role of ICTs under a new UN climate agreement

Hopes remain high that a new global framework to tackle climate change will be agreed at the landmark Paris Climate Summit this December. It is widely accepted that this agreement will need to support the deployment of “climate friendly” technologies to help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to changing weather patterns.

The conference—co-hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI)—emphasized the central enabling role that ICT technologies can play under a future global climate agreement.

An ICT-enabled world for sustainable societies

Having become faster, cheaper and more accessible globally, ICT is increasingly powerful tool generating environmental, economic and societal benefits.

The GeSI SMARTer2030 report, officially launched at the event, assesses eight economic sectors – energy, food, manufacturing, health, building, work, learning and logistics – highlighting that ICT could generate over $11 trillion in economic benefits by 2030, the equivalent of China’s expected annual GDP in 2015. At the same time, the study suggests that ICT can enable a 20% reduction of global CO2e (CO2 equivalent) emissions by 2030, thus holding emissions at 2015 levels.

Speaking at the conference, Kaisa Olkkonen of Nokia (and Vice-Chair of ICC’s Digital Economy Commission) said: “There are a number of opportunities for many ICT companies to play their part in fight against climate change. Intelligent technology can contribute to using natural resources in a more sustainable way, and to helping to cut energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.”

“Our findings show an ICT-enabled world by 2030 that is cleaner, healthier and more prosperous with greater opportunities for individuals everywhere,” said Luis Neves, chairman of GeSI.

“The SMARTer2030 report comes six months before the crucial United Nations climate change conference in Paris in 2015,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. “The long term outcome of the new agreement requires a peaking of global emissions in ten years’ time and a dramatic bending of the emissions curve thereafter. This report underlines the pivotal role of ICT in assisting to achieve these aims.”

John Danilovich, Secretary General of ICC, said: “It’s clear that the business community sees the potential opportunity in taking action to meet the climate challenge.”

Emerging technologies

Ms Olkkonen added that emerging communications technologies—like 5G and the Internet of Things—offer significant potential to speed emissions reductions: “Technology enables us to move towards the programmable world, where billions of things are connected. But connectivity is only the beginning. In the programmable world all those connected things will be held together in extraordinary ways. Software will be the glue, analytics and intelligence will bring meaning, and automated action will bring simplicity and efficiency, leading to vast benefits for the world around us.”

Business opportunity

A key theme of the conference discussions was the business opportunity for companies to invest in a low-carbon future. Many businesses are already taking action in this area, but clearer long-term policy frameworks are also needed to scale up investments in green technologies.

Peter Lacy, managing director of Accenture Strategy, said: “This US$11 trillion opportunity shows that digital can improve the financial and business case for investing in socially and environmentally responsible products and services. Not only are new technologies easily available, but they are able to directly improve the quality of people’s lives. And they are now able to do so at massive scale, enabling sustainable business models to become mainstream and a source of competitiveness and growth.”

John Danilovich, Secretary General of ICC, said: “It’s clear that the business community sees the potential opportunity in taking action to meet the climate challenge. ICT innovation is a key element to spur green growth but many governments do not sufficiently tap the sector’s innovation potential. A new global climate agreement must play a catalytic role in speeding the introduction of smart policies to drive private sector innovation and investment across all sectors.”

Click here for more information on ICC’s work on climate policy as the business focal point for the UNFCCC process.

Click here for more information on the ICC Commission on the Digital Economy.

For more information on the SMARTer2030 report, please visit smarter2030.gesi.org

For more information on GeSI and its activities, please visit www.gesi.org

For further information, please contact

  • Andreia FURTADO
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  • Coordinator, Media Relations and Web