Commission unveils plans to 'green' ICT

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The European Commission will publish proposals next February to boost the use of smart technologies to combat climate change, Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding told industry representatives in Brussels.

"The ICT sector must lead the efforts in Europe to attain our climate change targets," said Commissioner Reding, adding that the EU executive would "play its role" in supporting this trend. 

Brussels will publish a new document setting out specific policy recommendations to be pursued, the commissioner announced. The guidelines will be partly based on data collected from the industry.

Earlier this year, Reding hinted at the possible introduction of "mandatory public-procurement standards" to improve energy-efficiency standards for information and communication technologies (EurActiv 22/02/08).

Among the figures at its disposal, the Commission committed itself to taking into account the results of a study republished yesterday (11 December) on the ICT sector's potential to fight climate change. 

The industry once again drew attention to the report's findings, first published last June (EurActiv 27/06/08), in order to put pressure on EU leaders gathered in Brussels to seal a deal on the bloc's climate-change targets.

The report, called 'Smart 2020', was carried out in conjunction with consulting firm McKinsey by the 'Climate Group', which features top ICT companies such as Cisco, Vodafone, Nokia, Microsoft and Intel. 

Thanks to the widespread use of smart applications, the ICT sector could provide a 15% cut in CO2 emissions by 2020, with an overall savings for the economy of 600 billion euro, the study estimates. Intelligent logistics systems could massively boost the efficiency of transport and storage, it continues, predicting energy savings worth 280 billion euro in Europe alone.

The report claims that smarter designs and more automation have the potential to cut emissions from buildings by 15% in the US, while improving India's electricity grid could reduce energy loss by 30%.

Welcoming the report, Commissioner Reding stressed the importance of providing figures to increase general awareness of climate change issues and 'green' ICT opportunities. Climate Group CEO Steve Howard responded by calling for "the right policy framework to drive innovation and investment".

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