With the United Nations Climate Summit, which is taking place in Paris this month, the world is looking for some concrete changes that can effectively help combat global warming. The fact that 2015 has shaped up to be the hottest year on record is sure to ring some alarm bells and bring in a much needed sense of urgency.
Notably, previous meetings of the Conference of Parties(COP) have not seen many agreements being reached, and a meaningful global agreement regarding climate change is yet to be seen.
The Information Communication Technology (ICT) industry will be at the heart of discussions concerning business innovation and climate change. Its pivotal role will make it either the hero or the villain after the negotiations.
Estimates have projected that energy consuming connected , devices will number a whopping 50 billion by the year 2020, which leads to an average of 6 devices per each person on Earth. Computers and servers were responsible for 2.5 percent of the global energy produced in the year 2013, and this number is set to grow.
However, all does not look so bleak since the new generation of ICT devices consume much less electricity while giving a better performance.
AMD recently assessed the energy consumption of its latest Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), and found that it reduced the carbon footprint from its preceding generations by up to 50 percent. For the uninitiated, an APU combines a central processing unit along with a graphics processing unit and is used to power personal computers.
Although the technology industry is one of the few that utilise lesser power as the products tend to get more advanced, the rate at which the number of devices is growing might mean that this might not really make much of a difference. Only time will tell how a growing number of energy efficient devices will help out.
ICT is involved in trying to make a change. It is involved in making the world a more efficient place.
For instance, the Nest Thermostat, which can be used to remotely adjust cooling and heating in a home, senses when the occupant of a home is away and automatically adjusts the temperature and saves as much as 12-15 percent in costs.
Another way in which ICT devices bring about a change is the usage of cloud computing. With the utilisation of cloud computing, the need of onsite computing services is greatly reduced. As a result of this, overall energy emissions can be reduced by as much as 50-90 percent.
Another way in which ICT devices bring about a change is the usage of cloud computing. With the utilisation of cloud computing, the need of onsite computing services is greatly reduced. As a result of this, overall energy emissions can be reduced by as much as 50- 90 percent.
The SMARTer 2030 study found that “ICT has the potential to decouple growth from environmental degradation”. This means that economic growth can continue and not necessarily be damaging to the environment. The study had also claimed that by using smart technologies such as the ones mentioned can hold the global CO2 emissions in 2030 to the levels of those in 2015.
Usually environment protection is accompanied by a great economic cost, but this might not be exactly true for digital technology. The study has also forecasted that ICT will generate an amazing $6.5 trillion in revenues across sectors, as well as generating savings from due to greater efficiency and decreased waste, of $4.9 trillion.
ICT can also be used by farmers to maximise crop yields with lesser water and energy consumption due to accurate weather prediction, by shipping companies to navigate with more accuracy and find the quickest routes, and build systems that can self adjust heating and cooling.
Although the perception around technology is that it comes with a heavy cost to environmental health, the growing energy efficiency of this sector compels one to revise one’s views, and accept that ICT might help in making the world more efficient and actually aid the planet.