SMART 2020: Enabling the low carbon economy in the information age - United States Report Addendum

Report summary

U.S. carbon emissions today total 6 billion tons, and if current trends continue, they will reach 6.4 billion by 2020. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has called for an overall greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 60-80% below by 2050 to avoid significant environmental damage. Businesses and policy-makers alike now recognize that climate change is a global problem that demands immediate and sustained attention.

The information and communications technology (ICT) industry can enable a large portion of that reduction. By providing actors with the information necessary to make intelligent decisions about optimal energy consumption, ICT solutions can reduce the carbon footprint of human activity while not diminishing quality of life. Altogether, ICT enabled solutions could cut annual CO2 emissions in the U.S. by 13–22% from businessas- usual projections in 2020. This translates to a gross energy and fuel savings of $140-240 billion dollars. These savings translate to a reduction in total oil consumption by 11-21% and a reduction of imported oil by 20-36%.

Four main ICT opportunities to cut emissions are described in this report.

  • A smart electrical grid built on better information and communication could reduce CO2 emissions by 230–480 MMT of CO2, and save $15–35 billion in energy and fuel costs.
  • More efficient road transportation could reduce travel time and congestion, shaving off 240–440 MMT of CO2 emissions and
    saving $65–115 billion.
  • Smart buildings that consume less energy could abate 270-360 MMT of CO2 and save $40–50 billion.
  • Travel substitution through virtual meetings and fl exible work arrangements could reduce CO2 by 70–130 MMT and save $20-40 billion.

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