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Monday, 07 December 2009 13:54

ICT greenhouse gas emissions reduction quantified

Nearly six billion tonnes of CO2 emissions could be eliminated by 2020 through the focussed use of 17 core technologies in four of the world’s major economic sectors, according to a preview of a report released today just ahead of the United Nations’ COP15 climate change conference starting in Denmark this week.

In the report released by IDC, the research company says it has quantified the reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that result from using key information and communication technologies (ICT) to their full potential, and that the complete results of its study, including an ICT Sustainability Index that ranks the ability of the G20 nations to use ICT to reduce their CO2 emissions, will be released at the conference.
According to IDC's calculations, 5.8 billion tons (GT) of CO2 emissions could be eliminated by 2020 through the focused use of seventeen core technologies in the four major economic sectors of energy generation & distribution, transport, buildings, and industry. IDC says that the estimate represents the potential reduction in greenhouse gases for just the G20 nations, and that further reductions in global CO2 emissions could be realised if more countries used ICT-based solutions to their full potential.

IDC’s energy insights research director, Roberta Bigliani, said today that ICT will be an important source of practical solutions for reducing CO2 emissions in the G20 and many other countries and that "any goals to reduce energy consumption, for example, will be accelerated by using network-based solutions as a foundation.

“Similarly, ICT can enable more effective monitoring and management of energy use in many key sectors of a nation's economy. Although ICT is not a panacea, its full potential has not yet been put to use."

Endorsing Bigliani’s comments, Philip Carter, associate research director for Green IT & Sustainability Research, said that in developing the CO2 reduction model, IDC's criterion for selecting ICT solutions were simple and clear.


"The core technologies had to pass three tests: they had to be mature enough to provide real benefits within three years, support significant processing on a network, and be discrete independent technologies.”

And, IDC’s VP of consulting, Chris Ingle, said that the study also acknowledges that core ICT - the datacentre and communications infrastructure that underpins the emissions-reducing technologies – “needs to scale in order to achieve the energy savings and associated emissions reductions.

Ingle said that "as technologies have become more powerful and more widely used to support carbon emissions reduction, the emissions from powering those technologies, and the cost of powering them, have grown,” adding that “any plan for reducing carbon emissions should include an evaluation of the emissions from core ICT infrastructure. At the same time, ICT itself needs to optimise at all levels. In addition to the rack and datacentre, planners need to consider the use of energy efficient technologies in their infrastructure as a whole, including client and print."

The full results of IDC's CO2-reduction research, including the national scores from the ICT Sustainability Index TM and policy recommendations on how ICT investments can contribute to achieving climate change goals, will be released at an international press conference to be held this Thursday, at the Skuespilhuset (The Playhouse) in Copenhagen.

And, IDC’s SVP for enterprise infrastructure, consumer and telecom research, Vernon Turner said IDC expected that the ICT Sustainability Index would draw attention to how energy management through the focussed use of ICT can be achieved on a national level.

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