From: United Nations Environment Programme
Published June 20, 2008 10:39 AM

Smart Technology could reduce global emissions by 15 per cent

Transformation in the way people and businesses use technology could reduce annual man-made global emissions by 15 per cent by 2020 and deliver energy efficiency savings to global businesses of over EUR 500 billion(GBP400billion/USD 800 billion), according to a new report published today by independent non-profit The Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI).

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The report-SMART 2020:Enabling the low carbon economy in the information age-is the world's first comprehensive global study of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector's growing significance for the world's climate.

The report's supporting analysis, conducted independently by international management consultants McKinsey & Company, shows that while ICT's own sector footprint-currently two per cent of global emissions-will almost double by 2020, ICT's unique ability to monitor and maximise energy efficiency both within and outside of its own sector could cut CO2 emissions by up to five times this amount. This represents a saving of 7.8 Giga-tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent(GtCO2e) by 2020-greater than the current annual emissions of either the US or China.

Although tele-working, video-conferencing, e-paper, and e-commerce are increasingly commonplace, the report notes that replacing physical products and services with their virtual equivalents(dematerialisation and substitution)is only one part(six per cent) of the estimated low carbon benefits the ICT sector can deliver. Far greater opportunities for emissions savings exist in applying ICT to global infrastructure and industry and the report examines four major opportunities where ICT can make further transformational cuts in global emissions. These exist globally within smart building design and use, smart logistics, smart electricity grids, and smart industrial motor systems.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said: "This rigorous assessment underlines that the world can realise a green economy and make the transition to a low carbon economy. It also underlines the crucial importance of the international community reaching a deal on a new climate agreement at the climate convention meeting in Copenhagen in 2009. This partnership between GeSI, convened under UNEP, The Climate Group and McKinsey gives us yet another platform for action and yet another compelling reason for reasoned optimism."

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