IT-enabled climate solutions

How IT can help solve climate change

Background - April 28, 2010
The IT sector has had a major impact on the way society communicates and produces goods and services. In the same way that the Internet revolutionized how people exchange information, the IT sector can help transform the energy sector to dramatically increase efficiency and interconnectivity while reducing emissions and energy costs.

Table of IT-enabled climate solutions opportunities (click to enlarge)

The implementation of ICT solutions in five sectors - buildings, transport, manufacturing, power, and "dematerialization" of services - has the potential to cut 7.8 metric GtCO2 by 2020 - 15 percent of today's emissions.

(McKinsey Quarterly Report, Oct. 2008)

IT technologies make it possible to measure energy use and emissions in real time, which will ultimately allow energy consumers to better manage and reduce their usage. State-of-the-art IT solutions can make societies more efficient and maximize energy savings across sectors. Energy savings also spur significant cost savings - a projected US$646.5 billion - making IT solutions a win-win for the climate and the economy.

The Climate Group's SMART 2020 report illustrates the potential of the IT sector to direct its notoriously rapid technological innovation toward solutions that cut emissions and improve efficiency across the economy, which would result in global emission savings of 15 percent by 2020.

The solutions potential of the IT sector stretches beyond climate-friendly lifestyles and onto system-wide solutions that increase the overall efficiency of society, while making a major dent in global greenhouse gas pollution.

Three examples of IT based climate solutions: