Tech trade body calls for green action

Report on role of technology industry in climate change warns of five-fold growth in sector emissions by 2050 and calls for commitment to reduction planning.

Intellect, the trade association for the UK technology industry, is today publishing a report examining the role of technology in tackling climate change that calls for change.

The report, entitled High Tech: Low Carbon stresses that, if the sector does not implement low-carbon technologies soon, it will cause irreparable harm to the environment.

The trade body based its call to action on its findings that energy use related to information communications technologies (ICT) currently accounts for about two per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

It said that, if all else remained equal, a straight-line projection based on growth in both sectors would suggest that by 2050, we could see a five-fold increase in emissions related ICT and a six-fold increase in the emissions related to consumer electronics (CE).

John Higgins, Intellect director general said: "It is clear that there is considerable scope for improving the energy efficiency of ICT and CE products, irrespective of our sector size, our contribution to GDP [gross domestic product] or anything else."

But the report finds cause for hope, pointing to improvements in the energy efficiency of both sectors. It said Intellect believes the industry can exceed the target set by the Climate Change Task Force of UK business group, the CBI for a 30 per cent improvement in the efficiency of electrical equipment by 2030, adding that many products will exceed these targets by 2010. It also said these efficiency improvements will be related to when products are both in on mode and standby mode.

"But improving efficiency isn't enough we have to find ways to completely decouple economic growth from energy consumption. This is not an either or scenario - we have to do both," added Higgins.

The report, written by Intellect staff with support from its environment leadership group and Warwick University, identifies 26 different ICT, engineering and biotechnology and other related technologies that can be applied by other sectors of the economy to reduce their carbon emissions.

Dr Andrew Sentance of the University of Warwick welcomed the report. "As the Stern Review and other recent reports have highlighted, investment in new technologies will be crucial to building the low carbon economy of the future," he said.

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