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 Friday, February 15, 2008

A draft paper from Bill St. Arnaud,  entitled ICT and Global Warming Opportunities for Innovation and Economic Growth, is now available online. There has been considerable interest recently about how ICT (Information, Computer, Telecommunications) technologies and how they can address the global challenges of protecting the environment and supporting sustainable development. The subject of ICT and the environment covers a wide range of fields such as sustainable development, using ICT to improve practices in agriculture and forestry, monitoring atmospheric and water pollution, waste management and recycling, improved energy efficiency and, of course ICT as a source of toxic waste in its own right. Although these are all important areas of scientific research and public policy, the intent of the report is not to address the various areas on how ICT can address global environment challenges such as the emission of  Green House Gases (GHG). Instead the purpose of this brief report is to focus on the opportunities for innovation and economic growth that might arise through the use of ICT to address the challenge of GHG emissions.

To date most approaches for using ICT to reduce GHG emissions have focused on "sackcloth and ashes" approach of reducing energy consumption or emission abatement techniques such as tele-commuting, tele-presence, etc.  Various industry consortia and government programs have been set up to promote innovation in these areas. Although these may be worthwhile endeavours, they have been in existence for some time and so far, have made little progress in reducing energy consumption or GHG emissions. Rather than focusing on energy efficiency or abatement techniques, the document aims to demonstrate that ICT can provide much greater opportunities for innovation and economic growth through a strategy of "zero carbon" for the ICT industry itself and using ICT e-products and e-services as a reward mechanism to encourage consumers and businesses to reduce their overall carbon footprint including heating, transportation, etc.

Read the complete draft paper here.
For additional information, please contact the author  or visit the Green/IT and Cyber-infrastructure blog.