ICT sector part of the environmental sustainability solution, says ICC

  • 6 October 2010

The potential for information and communication technologies (ICTs) to facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy is the focus of an ICC discussion paper released today.

From smart-grids to consumer education, the paper underscores the crucial role of ICTs as both an enabler and driver of sustainable environmental solutions, and cites several case studies to exemplify how ICTs can be utilized to increase energy efficiency and replace the need for physical goods or services.

While ICTs are responsible for approximately 2-3% of current global carbon dioxide emissions, the paper illustrates how ICTs can beneficially impact other sectors and be part of the solution to reduce the energy consumption for the remaining 97-98% of emissions.

As one of the most pressing issues of our time, climate change is a global, long-term challenge requiring collaborative solutions. The ICC paper upholds that ICTs can help industries reduce emissions not only by increasing energy efficiency, reducing energy use, virtualizing activities that now require physical resources, and managing other scarce resources, but also by providing the information and analytical tools to act in an environmentally responsible manner.

“With nearly 70% of businesses with revenues of US$1 billion or more planning to increase spending on energy efficiency and environmental sustainability within the next 12 months, far-reaching opportunities exist for the ICT sector to be a critical element in the drive to lower emissions,” ICC said.

Given the estimated rise in emissions in coming years from ICTs, the paper acknowledges that the ICT sector also needs to improve its own performance.

“ICC members are working actively to reduce energy consumption/CO2 emissions in the ICT sector,” ICC said. “The ICT sector continues to mitigate its own environmental impact through better life-cycle audits of its products and production processes, with increased emphasis on research and development and innovation to improve product design.”

Sustainability and climate change are prevailing issues for ICC and its ongoing G20 campaign. Prepared by the ICC Commission on E-Business, IT and Telecoms, the discussion paper bolsters ICC’s ambit of work towards a sustainable future, in parallel with the work of other ICC policymaking bodies including the ICC Commission on Environment and Energy.

Acknowledging the political agreement reached at the 2009 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, ICC stresses that it was just one key indicator of international commitment to dialogue on potential solutions to sustainability issues.

“The ICT sector will need the engagement of all stakeholders to help in the reduction of CO2 and energy consumption,” the paper concludes. “ICC stands ready with its members to further engage with policymakers to facilitate and implement a transition to a future low-carbon economy.”