ICT solutions can reduce EU carbon emissions by 1.5Gt, says BT

Utilising and enhancing smart manufacturing, smart buildings and smart energy could reduce the European Union's (EU) carbon footprint by more than 1.5Gt by 2030, a new report from communications giant BT has found.

In a new report released on Monday (23 May), BT claimed that current efforts to reduce carbon emissions would “fall short” of the agreed 2C pathway established in Paris in December. To accelerate reductions, the firm has claimed that ICT enabled solutions could slash emissions – comparable to 37% of the EU’s total emissions in 2012 – while simultaneously generating huge economic boosts.

“BT recognises that, by enabling the digital transformation of our economies and large scale energy efficiencies, ICT has the potential to help reduce carbon emissions both substantially and at speed,” the company’s president of government and public affairs Larry Stone said.

“This report underpins our thinking, and shows that increased ICT deployment could enable significant carbon reductions, whilst also strengthening European economies. To make sure that we succeed together, it is important that ICT is considered at every step of the journey, and we call on policy makers to seize the moment and to move the ICT agenda forward.”

The report, which suggests that current carbon reduction efforts would lead to a temperature increase of 2.7C, highlights that utilising ICT enabled manufacturing methods to promote a circular economy, and implementing smart buildings could help the EU meet its 40% reduction target by 2030. BT claims that using ICT to streamline and improve energy efficiency could account for more than half of the estimated carbon reductions.

By using ICT to spark behaviour change and promote resource efficiency, the report claims that as well as saving carbon equivalent to almost 19 times the expected CO2 footprint of the EU’s technology sector in 2030, ICT could also generate revenue streams worth €678bn while providing cost savings of €643bn.

Despite noting that ICT could revolutionise new business models, significantly cut – or in some cases completely eliminate – waste and enhance carbon capture techniques, the report states that countries are at different stages of “readiness” to instigate ICT-led carbon reductions.

According to the report, both the UK and Germany are ready to lead the implementation of ICT uptake. For the UK, adopting new ICT models could reduce emissions by 176Mt – 56% of which would be achieved by improving energy efficiency measures – and creating €167bn in sustainable economic growth.

Digital disruption

Swedish communication technology company Ericsson has also weighed in on the potential of ICT in reducing emissions, claiming that the spread of mobile devices and uptake of smart technology could help reduce global GHG emissions by up to 15% by 2030.

BT has already been using ICT to drive behaviour change among its staff and consumers. Speaking exclusively to edie, BT’s global environmental sustainability spokesperson Gabrielle Giner revealed that the company’s ‘Net Good Goal’ – which aims to lower consumer carbon emissions by three times as much as the company itself – had created a real shift in the way board members interact with the topic of global warming.

Speaking at last week’s edie Live exhibition, Tech UK’s head of environment and compliance programmes Susanne Baker claimed that unlocking the Internet of Things would revolutionise how energy and materials are consumed in the supply chain; noting that it would create a “huge range” of circular economy opportunities.

Matt Mace

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