Driving carbon reductions with the ICT sector: Niall DunneNiall Dunne
When we signed up to We Mean Business, we did so with one clear mandate: to add our voice to the global businesses committed to the transition to a low-carbon economy. At BT we are working to reduce the carbon footprint of our operations and those of our suppliers, and help our business customers and consumers do the same.
In the UK, our government has signed up to legally binding climate change targets for the next ten and 20 years – a 50 per cent reduction of CO2e by 2025 (from 1990 levels) and 80 per cent by 2050. This, alongside the ambitions agreed by 193 countries as part of the Paris Agreement that concluded COP21, highlights the need for innovation on how we can achieve a sustainable future.
This is one of those ‘all hands on deck’ moments where we need to pull together. That’s one of the reasons we commissioned a research report with Accenture to examine and quantify the ways in which ICT could drive carbon reductions in the UK.
The research highlights the significant role ICT could play in helping to meet the specific targets set by the fourth and subsequent carbon budgets. Given these technologies could help meet two-thirds (65%) of the current carbon budget shortfall, it is hard to ignore the opportunity from ICT’s potential.
Looking to 2030, ICT could help deliver a 24% reduction in UK carbon emissions, some 12 times the carbon footprint of the ICT sector itself. This is the equivalent of taking 26 million passenger cars off the road.
When we consider the additional economic benefit from investing in information communication technology, the rewards are vast. Increasing the role of ICT will create £122 billion in economic value between now and 2030. Services such as e-health, public transport information, and virtualising services through the cloud can all play their part.
Virtualising services to the cloud increases server utilisations, reducing energy use from everything from surfing holiday sites to e-healthcare provision. According to a CDP report, offsite servers have the potential to prevent 85.7 million metric tons of annual carbon emissions by 2020.
And using the power of eco-design and circular economy principles, we have the potential to make ICT hardware much more energy efficient, so saving power and carbon emission.
The need is now. The opportunity is present. The ICT sector is uniquely placed to help deliver a better future.