From a focus on the industries own emissions (important but not the make or break for global emissions), it now looks as if 2008 will be the year when the more important use of ICT services moves into the centre of the debate.*
Not only are a number of leading ICT companies, like HP, Ericsson, Intel, Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu, Google, Tandberg, TeliaSonera, BT, China mobile, Verizon, Deutsche Telekom, Nokia, TCS, etc (realize that there are quite a lot and these are only the big companies and those on top of my head that I know have interesting work) much more active. The change is that mainstream fora is now picking up ICT in a low carbon economy and that political processes seem to take the issue serious.
Over the next few weeks the issue will be discussed (and in some cases important decisions made) in three key fora.
The first is WEF in Davos 23-27 of January , where we hope for a good message coming out of the meeting
Second is EU Sustainable Energy Week, 28th of Janury
Third in Greening the Economy, European Business Forum, Brussels, 21-22 February
Maybe we can see some transformative change already during 2008?
*e.g. A the key impact of a laptop is not the energy it consumes or even the energy embedded during production and transport of the laptop. The big question is how the laptop is used. If it allows the user to avoid travel to an office one-three days a week, increase online business that reduce transportation and can dematerialize building space it has a huge impact. Same thing for videoconference equipment, it is not the use/embedded energy that is the most important. Instead it is the possibility to reduce the need for flying that is the most important.
But, and this is a big BUT, ICT is a catalyst. It can also accelerate an unsustainable development. Laptops can be used to buy things from the other side of the world that might be available around the corner, it can used as a tool that make it easier for a shortsighted consumer society to dominate. Same thing with the videoconference it can be a driver for more travels unless business models and price incentives are not put in place.