The U.S. National Broadband Plan famously asserted that “broadband and advanced communications infrastructure will play an important role in achieving [the] national goals of energy independence and efficiency.” Now, a study released by the Global eSustainability Initiative (GeSI) offers new calculations on the size of the opportunity for using broadband and IT to maximize the efficiency with which an economy uses energy. It calculates that the greenhouse gas (GHG) abatement potential offered by ICT-enabled “intelligent efficiency” is more than 16 percent higher than previously thought.
GeSI released SMARTer2020 on Dec. 3, 2012, in conjunction with the U.N.’s Climate Conference in Doha. The report, prepared by the Boston Consulting Group, recognizes that the information and communications technology (ICT) sector requires electricity in order to operate, and so growth in the sector means growth in electricity use. But more importantly, the report also shows that when other sectors of an economy modernize by using what the ICT sector “produces,” the resulting GHG abatement potential is at least seven times the volume of what the ICT sector directly emits.
SMARTer2020 updates and expands on GeSI’s original SMART 2020 study published in 2008. An update was needed because a lot has changed with ICT in the last four years. The importance of mobile communications, especially machines talking to machines, cloud computing, along with smarter devices and applications, have enabled ICT use to penetrate new industries like agriculture. Maximizing the energy efficiency savings made possible through ICT use could yield $1.9 trillion in savings for consumers and businesses and create 29.5 million jobs globally if those savings are invested in other activities. The new GeSI report includes analysis of the barriers to adoption of ICT solutions, suggestions for policy-makers, and sectorial analysis, case-studies and individual country reports with recommendations.
Whether you are a policy maker or you work in the energy, transportation, building, manufacturing, consumer service or agriculture sector, reducing emissions while maintaining economic growth and improving quality of life is one of the fundamental challenges of the twenty-first century. SMARTer2020 demonstrates how ICT-enabled solutions offer the opportunity to sustainably grow the world’s economies.