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EU plans to publish new 'green ICT' plan

29 January 2009

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The European Commission will publish an action plan in March to boost the role of ICT in helping to green the EU economy. But extra effort from the technology industry may be necessary.

According to estimatesPdf external  by consulting firm McKinsey, widespread use of intelligent devices and applications could reduce global CO2 emissions by as much as 15% by 2020  (EurActiv 27/06/08). The reduction would help the Union to achieve ambitious environmental targets agreed in December 2007.

Under the EU executive's plans, cities, buildings and cars could all be equipped with new devices that are able to measure and reduce CO2 emissions. The growing shift to teleworking and online business will also have a positive impact on climate change.

The push for massive deployment of smart technologies represents a windfall for industry. The ICT sector "will profit a lot" from the Brussels-backed shift, according to Martin Selmayr, spokesman for EU Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding.

To offset this competitive advantage, the industry will be exhorted "to lead by example and reduce the energy it uses," according to a paperPdf external published by the Commission last May. This might involve more "green procurement" and more investment in research by the ICT sector: a view shared by the European Parliament. 

Yesterday, the EU assembly's industry committee adopted a report which suggests that boosting green public procurement, including mandatory application of energy efficiency standards.  (see EurActiv LinksDossier on green procurement).

"ICT today accounts for 2% of the global carbon footprint, but this is expected to grow" with the projected widespread use of new smart technologies, Commissioner Reding told industry experts yesterday (22 January) during a conference in Brussels on 'ICT for a global sustainable future'.

The Commission is studying the proposals, which are expected to be public in March, according to Commissioner Reding. Bearing in mind the economic crisis, the EU executive may consider making more funding available, not just to help ICT to green the economy, but also to help Europe to emerge from its current downturn.

Source : EurActiv

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