The Role of IT To Address Sustainability and Climate Change

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The Role of IT To Address Sustainability and Climate Change

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I wanted to share two interesting reports on the role of the ICT industry to help bring solutions that can help address broad environmental issues.

Smart2020 - Enabling The Low Carbon Economy In The Information Age

This is a great report that describes ways that the ICT industry could enable significant reductions of emissions in other sectors of the economy and has quantified these in terms of CO2e emission savings and cost savings. Overall, this report finds that ICTs could enable emissions reductions of 7.8 Gt CO2e in 2020, or 15% of business as usual emissions. The ICT-enabled energy efficiency translates into approximately $946.5 billion of cost savings. Here are some of the biggest opportunities identified in this report:

  • Smart motor systems: A review of manufacturing in China has identified that without optimisation, 10% of China’s emissions (2% of global emissions) in 2020 will come from China’s motor systems alone and to improve industrial efficiency even by 10% would deliver up to 200 million tonnes (Mt) CO2e savings. Applied globally, optimised motors and industrial automation would reduce 0.97 GtCO2e in 2020, worth €68 billion ($107.2 billion).
  • Smart logistics: Through a host of efficiencies in transport and storage, smart logistics in Europe could deliver fuel, electricity and heating savings of 225 MtCO2e. The global emissions savings from smart logistics in 2020 would reach 1.52 GtCO2e, with energy savings worth
    €280 billion ($441.7 billion).
  • Smart buildings: A closer look at buildings in North America indicates that better building design, management and automation could save 15% of North America’s buildings emissions. Globally, smart buildings technologies would enable 1.68 GtCO2e of emissions savings, worth €216 billion ($340.8 billion).
  • Smart grids: Reducing T&D losses in India’s power sector by 30% is possible through better monitoring and management of electricity
    grids, first with smart meters and then by integrating more advanced ICTs into the so-called energy internet. Smart grid technologies were the largest opportunity found in the study and could globally reduce 2.03 GtCO2e , worth €79 billion ($124.6 billion).

Read the full report at

Business for Social Responsibility - Can Software Save the World?

This paper articulates how software features can have a widespread impact to accelerate sustainable development by enabling people and institutions to address the most urgent sustainability challenges we face today. The report highlights key ways that software can contribute to sustainable development:

  • Addressing Environmental Crises – Climate, water and food crises put enormous strains on people and societies and only through large-scale transformation enabled by interoperable systems can we achieve a low-carbon economy that provides access to food and water and protects these vital human rights.
  • Bringing Information to Life and Putting It to Good Use – Whether for improved governance, optimized environmental performance or increased social benefit, software can help to illuminate patterns in the real world, to consider a broad range of options, and to make decisions that are definitively beneficial to stakeholders.
  • Enabling Collaborative Problem Solving – Individuals and organizations are empowered by software to work collaboratively across traditional boundaries, to leverage knowledge and expertise outside their own specializations, and to become part of a collective brain that can result in multi-stakeholder governance, development leapfrogging and innovation for sustainability.
  • Democratizing Global Commerce and Ensuring the Integrity of Markets – Scalable, low-cost transactions can mean the difference between fanciful ideas and workable business models. Software is the key to extending many kinds of services and creating new markets to drive social and environmental objectives.
  • Broadening Access to Healthcare, Education and Financial Services – These are fundamental drivers of sustainable development; a healthy, educated and prosperous global population has the capability to make a future that is more sustainable and software can play a key role in enabling easy and affordable access to these services.

Read the full report at

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