GeSI Mobile Carbon Impact

How mobile communications technology is enabling carbon emissions reduction

Mobile communications technology has long been recognised to have considerable potential to enable carbon emissions reduction across a variety of applications in a wide range of sectors. But this enablement effect is already having a meaningful impact on global carbon emissions, with the opportunity to grow this impact many times over as new technologies are adopted more widely.

At GeSI's request the Carbon Trust has completed the first ever bottom-up quantification of the significant areas of carbon emissions abatement enabled by mobile communications technology across the USA and Europe. This analysis has found that currently, annual savings are in excess of 180 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). To put this number in context, a country with annual emissions of this size would be amongst the world’s top 30 national emitters, ranking above countries such as the Netherlands, Vietnam and Pakistan.

Comparing this annual saving with the emissions resulting from mobile networks, means that the carbon emissions abatement enabled by mobile communications technology is approximately five times greater than the carbon emissions associated with mobile networks. Additional analysis completed for the UK, Germany, Spain and France found that over 35 million tonnes of carbon emissions abatement can be attributed to the use of mobile in those four countries. This amount is similar to the annual carbon emissions from Ireland or Switzerland. 

The report shows that the largest savings currently being made are in the operation of buildings and transportation, thanks to improvements in areas such as building management and route planning. Mobile is also making a meaningful impact thanks to changes it has enabled in lifestyles and working patterns, as well as on energy infrastructure.

Some of the greatest future potential savings exist in other areas such as agriculture. In addition, mobile technology is helping to unlock a number of the technological advances projected to have a significant future impact but not existing at scale today, such as smart grids and driverless cars.  The report projects that the abatement impact from mobile is set to increase by at least 3 times over the next 5 years.

“Advances in Mobile Communications over the last few years are helping to transform the world for the better", said Luis Neves, GeSI Chairman. "We are just at the beginning of an accelerating adoption curve, where businesses, governments and society recognise the wealth of possibilities offered by the technology to do things differently. This report shows that Mobile is already making a real difference across the global economy, helping us to do shape  a more sustainable world.”

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