Boston Consulting Group, on behalf of Global e-Sustainability Initiative, has developed a U.S.-focused analysis of Smart 2020 – a study of the information communication technology sector’s growing significance for climate change – which was released in June.
The U.S.-focused report (PDF) found IT-enabled solutions could cut annual U.S. CO2 emissions by 13 percent to 22 percent from business-as-usual projections in 2020. This translates to a gross energy and fuel savings worth between $140 billion to $240 billion dollars; equivalent to reducing oil consumption by 11 percent to 21 percent, and a cut in oil imports of 20 percent to 36 percent.
The report describes four main ICT-enabled opportunities in the U.S.:
1. A smart electrical grid built on better information and communication could reduce CO2 emissions by 230 million to 480 million metric tons, and save between $15 billion to $35 billion in energy and fuel costs.
2. More efficient road transportation could reduce travel time and congestion, eliminating 240 MMT to 440 MMT of CO2 emissions and saving $65 billion to $115 billion.
3. Smart buildings that consume less energy could save between 270 MMT to 360 MMT of CO2 and save between $40 billion to $50 billion.
4. Travel substitution such as virtual meetings and flexible work arrangements could reduce CO2 by 70 MMT to 130 MMT and save between $20 billion to $40 billion.
The reports highlights that in many cases the technology to achieve these savings already exists. However, economic, behavioral and informational challenges continue to stand in the way of realizing these gains, and markets have thus far been slow in adopting them. Achieving these reductions will therefore require more consistent and clearly defined government policy to speed progress.