Monday, March 16, 2009

Europe - EC calls for 20% GHG emission reductions

EU wants ICT industry to cut emissions by 20%
see also COM(2009) 111 final

The European Commission wants the ICT sector to cut its CO2 emissions by 20% before 2015 in exchange for the benefits the industry is expected to reap from EU legislation on smart technologies to tackle climate change.

The ICT industry currently accounts for about 2% of global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), according to estimates by Gartner, a leading consulting firm. The figure is slightly lower than that for the aviation sector, which is in the process of being regulated by the EU via its introduction into the bloc's emissions trading scheme.

The Commission does not foresee binding targets for the ICT industry, but "recommends" the sector to "show the way for the rest of the economy by already reducing its own carbon footprint by 20% by 2015," said Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding, commenting on a document adopted 12th March by the EU executive on the issue.

Many major companies have already announced commitments to significantly cut their emissions. BT intends to reduce its carbon footprint by 80% by 2016, compared to 1996 levels. The British giant is working towards this target by increasing its reliance on teleworking and by increasing the flexibility of its employees' work (thereby reducing costs and energy consumption), according to a BT spokesperson.

Vodafone plans to halve its CO2 emissions by 2020, while Intel has announced plans to cut its carbon footprint by 20% by 2012. Handset makers, by contrast, are lagging behind somewhat: Motorola and Nokia have committed to 6% reductions by 2012 and 2010 respectively.

The investments that ICT companies are making to become greener will be offset by relevant savings and growing revenues resulting from smart technologies, a trend which the European Union is underpinning with its markedly pro-energy efficiency policies.

One of the measures proposed by Brussels is to increase the use of smart meters to make people more aware of their energy consumption and carbon footprint. This would reduce energy consumption by 10%, according to Commission estimates.

ICT can also reduce the energy consumption of buildings by 17% and the carbon emissions of transport logistics by 27%, believes the EU executive. Brussels is therefore working to broker a partnership between the ICT sector and other major energy-consuming sectors.

More detailed measures are expected in a formal recommendation, which the Commission is aiming to adopt in the second half of 2009.

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