Thursday, October 16, 2008

How IT can cut carbon emissions

McKinsey & Company have issued a brief "How IT can cut carbon emissions". This claims ICT could be amongst the biggest greenhouse gas emitters by 2020, but ICT could be used to reduce overall emissions by 15%. On the face of it this study seems deeply flawed. In 2007 the ACS released results of a carbon audit showing ICT generated 1.52% of Australian national emissions and subsequent students released similar figures for other developed nations. My work for the Australian Department of Environment suggests that these emissions can be cut by 50% with little effort by 2020.

The rapidly growing carbon footprint associated with information and communications technologies, including laptops and PCs, data centers and computing networks, mobile phones, and telecommunications networks, could make them among the biggest greenhouse gas emitters by 2020. However, our research also suggests that there are opportunities to use these technologies to make the world economy more energy and carbon efficient. An analysis of five groups of abatement opportunities finds that such technologies could help to eliminate 7.8 metric gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions annually by 2020 (Exhibit 1)—equivalent to 15 percent of global emissions today and five times more than our estimate of the emissions from these technologies in 2020. ...

From: How IT can cut carbon emissions, McKinsey & Company, Giulio Boccaletti, Markus Löffler, and Jeremy M. Oppenheim, October 2008

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