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This report, jointly authored by Accenture and Vodafone, was prompted by the need to rise to the challenge of climate change. It identifies the ways in which mobile technologies, in particular, can be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Carbon Connections report specifically identifies 13 opportunities within five industries. It concludes with recommendations for governments and industries to accelerate the implementation of these opportunities.
Climate change is now widely accepted as a major threat that must be addressed urgently. Global emissions need to stabilize by 2015 and fall by 50 percent below 2000 levels by 2050.
It has been estimated that the ICT industry as a whole could save 15 percent of predicted greenhouse gas emissions in 2020—and wireless applications can play a significant part. At the same time, the industry’s products and services will continue to increase productivity and support economic development—the projected 15 percent reduction in emissions stems from energy savings worth €600 billion ($833 billion).
Smart machine-to-machine communications (M2M) are a growing area in wireless telecommunications and are behind 80 percent of the total carbon savings identified in this report. An example would be a truck communicating its position to a central fleet management system that calculates the optimal route and speed, helping to cut fuel consumption. Communication through a SIM card eliminates the need to integrate with a fixed-line network, providing greater flexibility.
The quantitative research models that underpin the analysis are based on the characteristics of each industry (such as fleet sizes for the logistics and transport sector) and specific criteria (such as local fuel or electricity prices) for each individual country assessed, rather than using aggregate data. This approach sets the findings apart from previous studies and increases the accuracy of the results.
Overall, the wireless telecoms applications modeled in this study could reduce carbon emissions by 113 Mt CO2e (millions of tons in carbon dioxide equivalent) in 2020 across EU-25 countries. The associated €43 billion ($60 billion) potential saving is derived from the reduction in energy costs only and does not include other related potential cost savings.
To achieve these savings, 1 billion mobile connections would be required. Delivering these connections will come at a cost. Emissions from the ICT industry as a whole are projected to increase from 2 percent to 3 percent of global emissions in order to enable a 15 percent reduction from other industries.
The 13 opportunities in five key areas identified in this study have the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 113 Mt CO2e and energy costs by €43 billion ($60 billion) a year in 2020 across EU-25 countries. Of these opportunities, smart grid and smart logistics represent the largest potential, with 70 percent of the identified carbon savings.
Potential savings from five key areas:
Of the wider range of possible opportunities for wireless telecoms to reduce carbon emissions and energy costs, 13 opportunities in five key areas were shortlisted and assessed to analyze potential emissions abatements and associated energy cost savings:
Dematerialization—replacing physical goods, processes or travel with ‘virtual’ alternatives, such as video-conferencing or e-commerce (online shopping). Opportunities are: Mobile telepresence, virtual office, mobile delivery notifications for e-commerce.
Smart grid—improving efficiency of electricity grids through active monitoring and reducing reliance on centralized electricity production. Opportunities are: Energy network monitoring, smarter meter/micro-power generation, smart meter: grid-loading optimization.
Smart logistics—monitoring and tracking vehicles and their loads to improve the efficiency of logistics operations by utilizing vehicles more fully. Opportunities are: Centralized tracking, decentralized tracking, loading optimization, onboard telematics and remote supply control.
Smart cities—improving traffic and utilities management. Opportunities are: synchronized traffic and alert system.
Smart manufacturing—synchronizing manufacturing operations and incorporating communication modules in manufactured products. Opportunity is: high-value product remote monitoring module.
The ICT (developing the technology and providing the connections), logistics and transport (smart logistics), utilities (smart grid), manufacturing (smart manufacturing) and business activities service (dematerialization) industries will be instrumental in realizing the greatest opportunities for carbon reduction.
Accenture and Vodacom recommend that governments and industries take the following steps to accelerate the development and implementation of these opportunities:
Deliver an effective price for carbon.
Develop regulatory frameworks that incentivize investment in smart technologies.
Promote interoperability and standardization.
Facilitate the formation of consortia for major smart opportunities.
Conduct further detailed research into specific emission reduction opportunities through smart ICT services.
Provide tax incentives for wireless ICT research and development.
Evaluate both technical feasibility of potential opportunities and anticipated capital expenditure requirements through pilot projects and case studies.
Promote cap-and-trade and offset mechanisms that result in the transfer of ICT technology to developing countries.
Accenture is a thought leader in the development of sustainability strategies that generate real business benefits and help drive high performance. Contact us to find out how we can help your organization.
July 20, 2009
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