Increased use of information and communication technology such as video conferencing and smart building management could cut global greenhouse gas emissions by up to 16.5 per cent by 2020, says a new study conducted by The Boston Consulting Group on behalf of GeSI.
"SMARTer2020 (the report) shows the abatement potential of ICT is seven times the size of the ICT sector's direct emissions. Information technology can drive the transition to a low carbon economy, with greater efficiency, and the preservation of our environment," Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSi) Chairman Luis Neves said.
The 16.5 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 is equivalant to USD 1.9 trillion worth gross saving of energy and fuel, the study said.
The SMARTer2020 report, released during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP18 meeting in Doha, shows that concerted action by policy-makers to encourage the use of ICT can save 9.1 Gigatonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) of harmful greenhouse gases from being emitted.
"It is critical that the world captures every last bit of energy efficiency, if we are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep below dangerous rises in temperature," UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said in a statement.
The report includes detailed national studies of the GHG abatement potential of ICT in seven countries, including India, identifying for each country the best strategies for policy-makers to pursue.
Talking about India, the study said: "For India, emissions growth has been exacerbated by poor transport and energy infrastructure, and heavy reliance on fossil fuels." The report said in recent years, India has made some progress toward broader and deeper penetration of ICT, but the country's track record is mixed.
"Low usage rates and a poor regulatory environment continue to plague Indian uptake of ICT, but there are encouraging signs that ICT is being used as a base upon which a significant economic transformation is being built," the report said.