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The following blog post comes from our colleague TJ DiCaprio, who will be participating later today in the Commonwealth Club event titled ‘Forest Wars,’ and who published the article below over on Greenbiz.com.
This evening I’m participating in a discussion at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club with thought leaders from various industries to explore the environmental and economic impacts of deforestation.
Deforestation represents a large environmental issue: it is the source of 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Each year, 7 billion tons of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere as 35 million acres of forest are destroyed through slash and burn agriculture, logging and charcoal production. The impact is economic as well as environmental.
At Microsoft, we are reminded daily of our industry’s impact on climate change – both positive and negative – and we are working constantly to reduce our carbon footprint and lead the way for others in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector. In 2008 we supported an independent study by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) called SMART 2020 to determine the carbon-reducing potential of ICT. The results showed that 7.8 gigatons ofcarbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e), or 15% of global emissions, could be reduced through the use of ICT solutions.
This Monday at the COP18 climate change conference in Doha, Qatar, GeSI and the Boston Consulting Group released SMARTer 2020. This updated report indicates that ICT-enabled solutions now offer the potential to reduce annual emissions by 9.1 GtCO2e by 2020, representing 16.5% of the projected total in that year. This figure represents a potential to reduce carbon emissions by more than 16% compared to the 2008 report, showing an increasing role for technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
At Microsoft we’re firm believers in the power of technology to address sustainability challenges, whether that’s by making cities smarter or enhancing efforts in energy efficiency. Smart cities were front and center in SmartPlanet, which cited a report that the collective ‘smart city industry’ could be poised for threefold growth by decade’s end. Meanwhile, the New York Times Green Blog asked how the Obama Administration will tackle climate change in the next four years by covering a guide released by the World Resources Institute.
Some of the greatest obstacles to widespread growth of renewable energy have to do with intermittency and impacts on wildlife. But new approaches to IT are beginning to address those challenges, like the ability to forecasting wind power that lets utilities reduce their dependency on backup power plants. In another project, Big Data is helping reduce the impacts of wind turbines on wildlife. Read on to learn more about how IT is having a positive impact on sustainable energy and the environment.