January 25, 2008
This European Business summit (EBS 2008) workshop will discuss the possible contributions of Information & Communication Technologies to the development ofa low carbon economy.
This post sets out the scope of this EBS 2008 workshop (see EBS ‘08 programme). Everyone interested in the topic, whether they’re coming to EBS 2008 or not, is welcome to use this blog to comment or submit their own ideas – see About this blog.
1. Introduction: the topic
- ICT has an impact on carbon emissions through the industry’s own carbon footprint (first order effects), but more significantly through the potential to leverage ICT in order to reduce emissions in other sectors (second order effects)
- There is a huge potential for ICT to support the move to a low carbon economy: 30-50% reductions in the 98% of emissions coming from the non-ICT is considered possible (McKinsey / HP).
- ICT directly contributes 2% of carbon emissions, so there is also potential for the ICT industry to contribute to a low-carbon economy by cutting its own emissions.
- This contribution can be made in various different areas, including:
- Facilitating reduced business travel and commuting
- Intelligent design: cutting energy use in manufacturing
- Improving efficiencies in relation to logistics and transportation
- Implementing energy saving within the power grid
- Reducing energy use in buildings
- Enabling carbon accounting
2. Main issues at European level
- Should ICT have a higher priority within EU policy making in relation to the transition to a Low Carbon Economy?
- How to strengthen the policy links between the potential contribution from ICT to both the EU’s Low Carbon and Lisbon Agenda targets?
- What is the significance of the European Commission’s forthcoming Communication on ICT and Energy Efficiency in complementing the Action Plan for Energy Efficiency and the Energy Policy for Europe?
- What leadership role should EU governments play – e.g. help their 100 million EU public employees to halve their carbon emissions by 2020 from ICT – and what leadership role is expected of ICT companies?
- What is the additional innovation and investment in low-carbon business models and life-styles that should be mobilised and by whom?
- What partnership potential is there between the public and private sector in Europe to drive forwards the agenda and potential in this area?
3. Challenges in the short/medium and long run
- Is there a clear and consistent message from ICT industry on action that should be taken to realise the potential in this area?
- How is it possible to leverage ICT as an enabler for energy efficiency and carbon reduction across a wide range of sectors of the economy rather than just within the sector?
- How to ensure that there is a positive opinion amongst key stakeholders and the general public concerning the ‘disruptive’ but beneficial lifestyle changes that new ICT can rapidly introduce?
- How to ensure that energy efficiency improvements from ICT results in lower carbon emissions rather than greater consumption?
- How can the role of ICT in reducing carbon emissions also deliver benefit to developing countries quickly, helping them to avoid ‘lock-in’ to higher carbon economic and lifestyle models?
- how to implement structural changes within the ICT industry in order to reduce the industry’s carbon emissions?
4. Possible questions to be made during the session (taking into consideration the speakers participating in each session)
- What is the additional research that needs to be undertaken, and by whom, to establish and confirm the evidence base, prioritise and concrete activities necessary in this area?
- Are there obvious examples of corporate or government best practice in the deployment of ICT for low carbon objectives?
- What is the potential competitive advantage to the European Union ins developing a strong, leading role in developing and deploying Low Carbon ICT in the EU?
- Is there a need to consider how public interest groups, trades unions and the media can be involved in this effort?
5. Further reading
- ‘Saving the Climate @ the Speed of Light’ (2006) ETNO and WWF
- ‘Advanced Electronics and IT: The Innovation-Led Climate Change Solution’ (2007) AeA
- ‘CO2 Reduction with ICT: Prospects and Barriers’ (2007) L. Hilty in Hyrniewietz, Studzinski and Romanium (eds), Environmental EnvirInfo, 2007.
- Studies underway of particular note include:
- GeSI’s project with McKinsey and The Climate Group
- WWF/HP project on ‘delivering the first billion tonnes of CO2