Enabling the Global Goals
Evidence of digital solutions‘ impact on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The increased awareness about the problems caused by increased GHG emissions coincided with a period in which the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) industry experienced substantial growth. With the development and increased pervasiveness of innovative products and services such as the Internet or mobile telephony, the industry’s impact in our economies and everyday lives is bigger and more visible today than it has ever been. This level of impact and visibility has increased the responsibility of the ICT industry to take action in the fight against climate change.
In 2008, the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), an industry-led initiative to further sustainable development in the ICT sector, launched the “SMART 2020 – Enabling the Low Carbon Economy in the Information Age” report with the objective of determining the global ICT carbon footprint as well as how ICT could enable a reduction in emissions, both in the industry itself and in other sectors of the economy. The report examined how the application of ICT could not only deliver energy savings and carbon reduction, but do so in a way that drives even greater economic growth and productivity. The report quantified the global footprint of the ICT sector in 2020 at around 2.7% of global emissions, but also identified potential for ICT to enable about a 15% decrease in CO2 emissions in other areas of the economy. This decrease is over five times the size of the industry’s own footprint, and is the result of potential ICT-enabled initiatives in five key areas: electric grids, buildings, logistics, motors and dematerialisation.
In order to assess the potential for change in Portugal and to outline an action plan, the Associação Para o Desenvolvimento das Comunicações (APDC) launched the SMART Portugal 2020 project, with the support of The Boston Consulting Group. This project is the first of several efforts worldwide to localise the conclusions of the SMART2020 report and derive implications at a country level, a necessary step to foster discussion, galvanise support and establish actionable plans to realise the potential identified.
This report is the first output of this project. The work behind this report was carried out in three phases:
I. A first phase to establish the current and forecasted Business As Usual (BAU) Portuguese carbon footprint to 2020, highlighting the ICT sector footprint;
II. A second phase to detail the potential for ICT to enable improvement in different sectors of the economy, including the ICT sector itself;
III. Finally a third phase to identify initiatives with the highest potential, including a high-level analysis of implementation requirements.