Global computing could be responsible for a greater share of greenhouse gas emissions than previously thought and these emissions will continue to rise significantly unless action is taken, a new study highlights.
A team of researchers from Lancaster University and sustainability consultancy Small World Consulting Ltd claim that previous calculations of ICT’s share of global greenhouse emissions, estimated at 1.8-2.8%, likely fall short of the sector’s real climate impact as they only show a partial picture.
The researchers point out that some of these prior estimates do not account for the full life-cycle and supply chain of ICT products and infrastructure – such as: the energy expended in manufacturing the products and equipment; the carbon cost associated with all of their components and the operational carbon footprint of the companies behind them; the energy consumed when using the equipment; and also their disposal after they have fulfilled their purpose.
The researchers argue ICT’s true proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions could be around 2.1-3.9% - though they stress that there are still significant uncertainties around these calculations. Although like for like comparisons are difficult, these figures would suggest ICT has emissions greater than the aviation industry, which are around 2 % of global emissions.
Continue reading at Lancaster University
Image via Lancaster University