Technology Could Help Reduce Harmful Emissions

Wednesday, Jan 02, 2013, 12:00am

by David Isaacs, Vice President, Government Affairs

It’s no secret that modern technology – enabled by semiconductors – has improved our lives dramatically by revolutionizing our communication, transportation, health care, business and entertainment systems, among many others. But sometimes we lose sight of what technology can do for our planet.

A recent study released by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) has found that increased use of information and communication technology (ICT) such as video conferencing and smart building management could reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 16.5 percent by 2020, totaling $1.9 trillion in energy and fuel savings. The report concludes that the potential for information technology to reduce global carbon emissions has been underestimated in the past, and that the potential reduction in emissions from ICT is seven times greater than the ICT sector’s own carbon footprint.

The study identifies GHG reduction potential in six sectors of the economy: power, transportation, manufacturing, consumer and service, and agriculture and buildings. Examples include cloud computing and video conferencing, optimization of variable-speed motors in manufacturing, smart livestock management to reduce methane emissions, and dozens of other ICT solutions identified in the study. Some ICT advancements such as smart electricity grids reap benefits at the national level, while others like intelligent building management systems can result in energy and cost savings for individual households and businesses.

The GeSI study is a timely reminder that semiconductor technology helps build a cleaner, healthier, better-connected planet, and our greatest potential still lies ahead.