Similar to other industries the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) industries has been challenged to prevent its carbon emissions from increasing. ICT also has the incentive to demonstrate the potential for reductions in carbon emissions through increased use of technology within other sectors.
Video interview with Danish MEP: Is ICT a climate hero or a climate villain?
We asked Danish Member of the European Parliament and Vice Chairman of the European Parliament’s Environmental Committee for the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, Dan Jørgensen on his view on the contribution of ICT to climate change and the EU plans for carbon reductions.
According to Dan, the ICT sector needs to take responsibility for its own emissions and ensure that it is doing all that it can to reduce its impact on the environment. Dan also feels that other sectors such as the car manufacturing or energy industries could learn a lot from the ICT sector. In particular Dan can see opportunities for carbon reductions, not only within the ICT sector itself, but also by utilising ICT to help other sectors and industries such as production, transport, construction and logistics become more sustainable
According to the Smart2020 report, produced by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), the Climate Group and McKinsey & Company, by using ICT solutions available today, we can eliminate 7.8 gigatons of carbon emissions annually by 2020, an amount greater than is currently released by all sources in the EU. Additionally, Dan feels that there is a great potential for leveraging ICT tools such as social media in order to empower and mobilise European citizens to act on climate challenges.
Energy week 2010 - ICT & reducing environmental footprint
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Microsoft is taking responsibility for reducing our carbon footprint, with a goal to reduce our carbon emissions by 30 % by 2012. With the increasing digitalisation of society and the shift to cloud computing, it is however unavoidable that total global carbon emissions from data centers will grow. That is a challenge which Microsoft is taking very seriously and besides increasing our reliance on renewable energy where this is available, Microsoft proactively publishes and communicates best industry practices to create drastic improvements in energy efficiency.
But we certainly agree with Dan, that the greatest potential for ICT lies in empowering organizations, governments and citizens to act on climate change. The Eye On Earth portal, built in cooperation between the European Environmental Agency and Microsoft, provides an ideal example. The vision behind the portal was to supply local environmental data to citizens throughout the EU using ICT in order to improve government transparency, empower citizens and generate awareness on climate change.
We do not think that there is a natural tendency for ICT to either solve or contribute to environmental challenges. Rather it is the way that ICT is used which determines the effects on the environment – ICT offers a number of opportunities to address environmental challenges, but these opportunities will not be realised, unless governments, companies and society at large takes advantages of the potential savings available while ensuring that the supporting infrastructure is implemented in an environmentally responsible manner.