EC: Green IT Can Combat Climate Change

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The tech industry should lead the way when it comes to adoption of energy efficient IT, says a European Commission report

The European Commission has become the latest organisation to get behind the idea that more sustainable approaches to IT can help tackle global warming.

In a statement released late last week, the EC called on member states and industry to adopt more environmentally friendly technology as well as using ICT to improve energy efficiency generally.

The EC claims that technologies such as smart metering – fitting heating systems and other utilities with real-time displays on energy usage – could help consumers and businesses reduce total carbon emissions by up to 15 percent by 2020.

“Targeting energy-efficient and low-carbon growth will help Europe face its biggest challenges: climate change, energy security and the economic crisis.” said Viviane Reding, commissioner for Information Society and Media. “ICT have an enormous untapped potential for saving energy right across the economy.”

Reding also claimed that the IT industry, which has been compared with aviation in terms of its total carbon footprint, should be leading the way when it comes to adopting more efficient technology. “I personally would recommend to the ICT sector to show the way for the rest of the economy by reducing its own carbon footprint already by 2015 by 20 percent,” she said. “I see from the response of European ICT companies to the Commission’s ongoing work that Europe is already well ahead in using ICT for greening the economy.”

According to the EC, the ICT sector is responsible for around 2 percent of carbon emissions in Europe. This can be broken down into 1.75 percent resulting from the use of ICT products and services, and a further 0.25 percent from their production.

But while the ICT sector should set itself ambitious targets for improving its own energy and carbon footprint, the EC claims use of ICT across all sectors of the economy and society can reduce the remaining 98 percent of European emissions.

The EC claims trials from technologies such as smart metering show that it can lower energy consumption by up to 10 percent. “Smart meters generate more accurate information on consumer demand, which in turn can be used by electricity suppliers to manage their own networks in such a way as to reduce unnecessary production, losses and thus lower carbon emissions,” the EC said in a statement.

The Commission also announced a public consultation on improving energy efficiency. “Only by identifying who does what within the set deadlines, that targets have a real chance of being achieved,” the organisation claimed.