The China telecommunications sector has prevented the emissions of 48.5 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2008 and 58.2 million tons in 2009 thanks to low carbon solutions such as telecommuting, electronic data interface and more efficient logistics from China Mobile, according to a study from WWF China and China Mobile, reports The Guardian.
The report indicates the savings nearly match the total emissions of countries such as Sweden, Denmark or Finland in 2008. In 2009, the savings were almost six and half times China Mobile’s emissions.
Consulting firm McKinsey predicts that by 2020 the biggest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions could come from information and communications products and technologies including laptops and PCs, mobile phones, data centers, and telecommunications networks.
The report, “Low Carbon Telecommunications Solutions in China: Current Reductions and Future Potential” (PDF), analyzed direct savings from 14 low carbon information communication technologies (ICTs) offered by China Mobile, which include smart logistics (such as matching truck deliveries to load needs), dematerialization (saving paper and other materials), smart work (reducing commuting and travel needs) and smart appliances (remotely monitored and controlled for energy savings).
The report notes that the estimates are conservative because they don’t take into account indirect savings. As an example, when calculating the savings of shifting newspapers, brochures and invoicing online, it doesn’t account for reduced requirements for transport, storage and waste disposal, and other infrastructure implications.
The report reveals that telecommuting offers the greatest potential for carbon emission reductions in China, estimating that it could save 340 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2020. However, the savings from virtual meetings will increase at a much greater rate, about 623 million tons of CO2 annually by 2030, reducing commercial aviation emissions by nearly 40 percent.
The potential savings from smart logistics, dematerialization, and smart work (including smart meetings and smart commuting) is 399 million tons in 2010, 615 million tons in 2020 and 1298 million tons in 2030.
“This would be a significant contribution to the global greenhouse gas emission reductions and an important contribution to China’s target to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 40 to 45 percent by the year 2020,” said Yanli Hou, the Director of Climate Change and Energy Programme of WWF China.