GeSI published “SMART 2020 Enabling the low-carbon economy in the information age” in June 2008 – the first major study identifying the significant contribution the ICT industry can make to creating a low-carbon economy. The report also includes a series of objectives to reduce the ICT industry’s own emissions and set an example for other sectors.
The report predicts that the emissions from the ICT sector will represent an estimated 3% of total global emissions by 2020 but that ICT will enable others to achieve significant emissions reductions, helping other industries and consumers avoid an estimated 7.8 gigatonnes of CO2e emissions by 2020. That is 15% of predicted total global emissions – or five times ICT’s own footprint. Additionally, applying ICT solutions to sectors such as energy, buildings, transport and commerce can save up to €600 billion and create 15 million green jobs globally by the year 2020.
The biggest opportunities are:
- Smart motor systems: Reducing electricity consumption in industry through optimised motors and automation could save almost 1 GtCO2e in 2020, worth €68 billion ($107.2 billion).
- Smart logistics: Improving the efficiency of transport and storage could save 1.5 GtCO2e in 2020, with energy savings worth €280 billion ($441.7 billion).
- Smart buildings: Making living and working spaces more energy-efficient could save 1.7 GtCO2e from building energy use in 2020, worth €216 billion ($340.8 billion).
- Smart grids: Improving the efficiency of electricity grids is the largest opportunity identified in the study – with potential savings of 2 GtCO2e, worth €79 billion ($124.6 billion).
- Dematerialisation: Dematerialising the way we live and work by replacing physical objects and activities with electronic or “virtual” alternatives could save 500 Mt CO2e in 2020 – the equivalent of the total global footprint of the ICT industry in 2002.
SMART 2020 Deutschland:
Die IKT-Industrie als treibende Kraft auf dem Weg zu nachhaltigem Klimaschutz
SMART 2020 Portugal:
Reducing Emissions and Increasing Energy Efficiency through ICT
GeSI is planning to publish an update to the 2008 report in autumn 2012.
The green way forward – GeSI members show by example
Demonstrating the green potential of ICT, GeSI members keep commitments to reduce direct carbon footprint within their own organisations as well as further develop the greening potential of ICT for other sectors with increasing energy efficiency of products, solutions and technologies.
Since the SMART 2020 report was published in 2008, GeSI members have met and in many cases, exceeded commitments to lower their carbon footprint and improve energy efficiency. Below is a summary of the commitments expressed by companies in Appendix 4 of the SMART 2020 report as well as more recent commitments, for example in their corporate responsibility reports.
A majority of GeSI members have also demonstrated their commitments to increased supply chain work, life cycle assessments, e-waste management and implementing smart solutions in the key areas the SMART 2020 report identified as ICT’s enablement potential: smart grids, transportation, buildings, motor systems and dematerialisation. Download overview of GeSI members’ commitments.