Study: ICT can fasttrack solutions to global warming

Information and communications technologies (ICT) could fastback solutions to global warming while driving economic growth, new study released recently by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and Accenture proves.

The report, SMARTer2030, shows that as smart phones, networked sensors, smart grids and other ICT devices become faster, cheaper and more available globally, they have the potential to deliver profound environmental, economic and social benefits. 

These include a 20 percent reduction of global carbon emissions by 2030, over $11 trillion dollars in new economic benefits, the ability to extend e-healthcare to an additional 1.6 billion more people worldwide, and an estimated 30 percent increase in agriculture yields.

ICT emissions “footprint” is expected to decrease to 1.97 percent of global emissions by 2030 compared to 2.3 percent forecast by 2020.

“Our findings show an ICT-enabled world by 2030 that is cleaner, healthier and more prosperous with greater opportunities for individuals everywhere,” said Luis Neves, chairman of GeSI.

An assessment of eight sectors of the global economy – energy, food, manufacturing, health, building, work/business, learning, mobility/logistics – shows that ICT could also generate over $11 trillion in economic benefits per year by 2030, the equivalent of China’s annual GDP in 2015. ICT-enabled services could also generate US$6 trillion in ICT-enabled annual revenue opportunities and US$5 trillion in annual savings from lower consumption of energy, fuel and other resources, according to the report.

ICT will connect 2.5 billion additional people to the “knowledge economy” by 2030, giving 1.6 billion more people access to healthcare and a half-billion more people access to e-learning tools.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said the SMARTer2030 report comes six months before the crucial United Nations climate change conference in Paris in 2015.

“The long term outcome of the new agreement requires a peaking of global emissions in ten years’ time and a dramatic bending of the emissions curve thereafter. This report underlines the pivotal role of ICT in assisting to achieve these aims,” he said.
SMARTer2030 follows GeSI’s 2012 report, SMARTer2020, which calculated reduced greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption. Among its recommendations is that policy makers should create the right policy environment such as  setting national CO2 targets, recognizing the critical role of ICT, creating investment incentives to connect the unconnected with new infrastructure and ensuring a stable and balanced regulatory approach to ICT.