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Smart 2020: IT Could Cut Global Emissions 15%, Saving $800 Billion

IT could reduce global emissions by 15 percent and save $800 billion annually by 2020, The Climate Group reports.

“Smart 2020: Enabling the low carbon economy in the information age” (PDF), a new report from The Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative, looks at the information and communication technology sector’s growing significance for the world’s climate.

Supporting analysis from McKinsey & Company, shows that while the IT sector’s footprint will almost double from two percent to four percent by 2020, the ability of the sector to monitor and maximize its energy efficiency could cut CO2 emissions by up to five times this amount — or 7.8 giga-tons of CO2 by 2020, which is greater than the current annual emissions of either the U.S. or China.

Another key finding of the report says buildings are the second highest consumer of power in the world behind industry. Through better building design, management and automation, 15 percent of North America’s building emissions could be avoided, the report says.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director, UN Environment Programme, said: “This rigorous assessment underlines that the world can realize a green economy and make the transition to a low carbon economy.”

HP, which released a white paper on its low carbon IT solutions earlier this week said it applauds the Smart 2020 report.

These findings further corroborate our own climate strategy and our long-standing commitment to the environment.

According to the HP report:

In most countries, buildings are the largest driver for both energy use and CO2 emissions. The 160 million buildings in the EU, for example, are estimated to use over 40 percent of Europe’s energy … the share of energy and green house gas emissions associated with buildings is even larger in the U.S., with 48 percent of the total.

The HP white paper is available here (PDF).

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