How broadband can cut carbon emissions

Broadband can reduce carbon emissions by millions of metric tons and deliver significant energy saving, a new report from the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) shows.

The report, which is backed by BT Group, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson and Verizon, shows a direct link between broadband Internet use and energy reduction. The study looked specifically at eight areas: telecommuting, using the Internet as a primary news source, online banking, e-commerce, downloading and streaming media, e-education, digital photography and e-mail.

“Assuming reasonable adoption of all eight activities, the six countries featured in the study could achieve net energy savings equivalent to 2% of their total energy consumption,” the report finds. “The US could generate annual net energy savings of about 336m barrels of oil, equivalent to 2% of its total energy consumption.”

France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK could generate annual net energy savings of 164m barrels of oil, also equivalent to 2% of the total energy consumption in these countries.

“The total savings in this report at first might seem small, but that is only because the eight activities we studied are a relatively small part of their respective economies,” says John Laitner, the director of economic and social analysis for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy who led the GeSI study.

“Even at this scale, these relatively small activities may generate a larger benefit, equal to the total carbon dioxide emissions impact of the [technology] industry.”

Telecommuting provided the largest energy benefit across the five European countries and US, generating about 83% and 86% of net energy savings respectively. The areas of least savings were online news and e-education.

The report is available here.

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