Publish on: 2015-06-09

A major gathering of businesses and policymakers—held alongside the ongoing UN climate talks in Bonn—has heard how Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can play a central role in tackling climate change.

The role of ICTs under a new UN climate agreement
Hopes remain high that a new global framework to tackle climate change will be agreed at the landmark Paris Climate Summit this December. It is widely accepted that this agreement will need to support the deployment of “climate friendly” technologies to help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to changing weather patterns.

The conference—co-hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI)—emphasized the central enabling role that ICT technologies can play under a future global climate agreement.

An ICT-enabled world for sustainable societies
Having become faster, cheaper and more accessible globally, ICT is increasingly powerful tool generating environmental, economic and societal benefits.

The GeSI SMARTer2030 report, officially launched at the event, carried out an assessment of eight economic sectors– energy, food, manufacturing, health, building, work, learning and logistics – , finding that ICT could generate over $11 trillion in economic benefits by 2030, the equivalent of China’s expected annual GDP in 2015. At the same time, ICT can enable a 20% reduction of global CO2e (CO2 equivalent) emissions by 2030, thus holding emissions at 2015 levels.

“Our findings show an ICT-enabled world by 2030 that is cleaner, healthier and more prosperous with greater opportunities for individuals everywhere. “This new study is based on in-depth modeling, unprecedented in its range, into the potential for ICT to disrupt business as usual and radically reshape the way we live, as well as reducing the impact that continued economic growth has on our environment. ICT can help break the link between economic development and resource depletion, with emissions savings close to 10 times those generated by the ICT sector itself,” said Luis Neves, Chairman of GeSI. 

Speaking at the conference, Kaisa Olkkonen of Nokia said: “There are a number of opportunities for many ICT companies to play their part in fight against climate change. Intelligent technology can contribute to using natural resources in a more sustainable way, and to helping to cut energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.”

This means that innovation, combined with new forms of cooperation, will lay the foundation for economic prosperity, environmental protection, and societal development in the 21st century– a key aspect on which the newly launched ICC Business Charter for Sustainable Development is based upon, a strategy tool for companies on how to grow their business in the 21st century.

Emerging technologies
Ms Olkkonen added that emerging communications technologies—like 5G and the Internet of Things—offer significant potential to speed emissions reductions: “Technology enables us to move towards the programmable world, where billions of things are connected. But connectivity is only the beginning. In the programmable world all those connected things will be held together in extraordinary ways. Software will be the glue, analytics and intelligence will bring meaning, and automated action will bring simplicity and efficiency, leading to vast benefits for the world around us.”

Business opportunity
A key theme of the conference discussions was the business opportunity for companies to invest in a low-carbon future. Many businesses are already taking action in this area, but clearer long-term policy frameworks are also needed to scale up investments in green technologies.  

John Danilovich, Secretary General of ICC, said: “It’s clear that the business community sees the potential opportunity in taking action to meet the climate challenge. ICT innovation is a key element to spur green growth but many governments do not sufficiently tap the sector’s innovation potential. A new global climate agreement must play a catalytic role in speeding the introduction of smart policies to drive private sector innovation and investment across all sectors.”  

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For more information on ICC's work on climate policy as the business focal point for the UNFCCC process, please visit this link.

For more information on the ICC Commission on the Digital Economy, please click here.

For more information on the SMARTer2030 report, please visit smarter2030.gesi.org

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