The uptake of low-carbon ICT is mixed across sectors and geographies. The most significant barriers include a lack of awareness of the systemic carbon and energy saving potential of ICTs, and a lack of tools and methodologies to quantify these benefits. Removing these barriers would help better leverage the financial drivers for low-carbon ICTs adoption as carbon pricing becomes more prevalent, accelerating the use of ICTs as a solution for a low-carbon economy.
1. Key Conclusions
➢ The financial crisis provides a unique opportunity to establish ICT as a key provider of low carbon solutions
o Most low carbon ICT solutions do not add costs like many other “green” activities. So far these solutions have been implemented because they help business and cities to increase productivity and save costs. If awareness of this win-win opportunity (economy and climate) spread, an accelerated uptake could be expected.
o There is no existing method to measure the low carbon contributions from ICT solutions, but the interest for such a tool is significant. A tool that would help ICT users and cities to calculate the carbon savings from using ICT solutions would increase the interest and demand in such solutions.
o IT users, especially high-emitting industries, are starting to use low carbon IT solutions for transformative change. It is necessary to collect and disseminate best practices where ICT’s role in transformative change, as well as incremental, is described .
➢ A shift in perspective from risk to profit in relation to climate change is needed for ICT to become visible as a key provider of low carbon solutions
o The green stimulus packages seem to have resulted in a situation where companies in emerging markets will increase their investments in low carbon solutions. To link ICT investments to strategic parts of stimulus packages, such as those promoting infrastructure, is important for low carbon infrastructure development.
o The areas seen as most important for investments to reduce a company’s own carbon emissions over the next five years are smart buildings and use of renewable energy, both requiring significant investment in ICT if done properly. Examples of how ICT help with smart buildings and increased use of renewable energy in different markets should be provided.
➢ Opportunities with a low carbon infrastructure must be understood
o The combined pressure from the financial and climate crises has put focus on the infrastructure . ICT solutions can be part of a low carbon infrastructure that must provide many of the services that have so far been provided by a high carbon Infrastructure. The benefits of a low carbon infrastructure need to be better understood and tools to help decision makers should be developed.
o Asia appears to be a potential leader in the area of smart buildings. With so many new buildings being built, this is a historic opportunity where buildings can turn from the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases to become a net provider of sustainable energy. ICTs role in providing the world with passive, and net producing, buildings should be documented and guidelines provided.
o Many low carbon ICT solutions are already in use by both cities and companies, but their contribution to reducing emissions is often not understood. Handbooks for cities and companies should be developed in order to explain what contributions smart ICT solutions can play.