Advanced broadband technology can play an essential role in cutting carbon emissions, boosting the economy and reducing dependence on foreign oil, says a report released by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI).
GeSI is an international strategic partnership of information and communications technology companies and industry associations that is committed to creating and promoting technologies and practices that foster economic, environmental and social sustainability, and drive economic growth and productivity. GeSI, formed in 2001, partners with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which hosts GeSI's Secretariat and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
Headquartered in New York, Verizon Communications Inc is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.
Verizon joined nine other companies as well as the National Resources Defense Council to commission an addendum of the GeSI study, "SMART 2020: Enabling the low carbon economy in the information age" The study focused on how information and communications technology can enable a significant reduction of the United States' carbon emissions through 2020.
The report found that these technologies can reduce the carbon footprint of human activity while not diminishing the quality of life - transforming the US economy "into a high-tech, high-growth and low-carbon beacon" Verizon's all-fibre-optic network, which offers ultra-high-speed broadband services, provides the foundation for the SMART 2020 recommendations.
Altogether, information and communications technologies, which include broadband, could cut annual CO2 emissions in the U.S. between 13 per cent and 22 per cent through 2020, according to the report. This translates into gross fuel and energy savings of between $140 billion and $240 billion, or a reduction of 11 per cent to 21 per cent in total oil consumption and a reduction of 20 per cent to 36 per cent in imported oil.
"The SMART 2020 reports are a tremendous resource for policymakers, and can help them focus on enacting policies that harness the energy-efficiency benefits that broadband and information and communications technology can deliver" said Kathryn C. Brown, Verizon's senior vice president for public policy development and corporate responsibility. "Research has shown broadband to be a form of 'super capital' that impacts productivity and increases efficiency. Focusing on investment in broadband and these technologies can help stabilize our economy, generate 'green' jobs and begin to transition our country to a sustainable energy system"
Verizon is the only major US company building an advanced, all-digital fibre-optic network on a mass scale all the way to customers' homes. The company now serves 2.2 million FiOS Internet customers, 1.6 million FiOS TV customers and leads in HD. FiOS Internet service with download speeds of up to 50 Mbps (megabits per second) is available to all Verizon FiOS customers in all deployed markets.
Brown, a panelist at a forum where the report was unveiled, added: "Broadband technology like Verizon FiOS serves as the foundation on which the recommendations outlined in the SMART 2020 report can be built. As a company, we are committed to ushering in a new era of American innovation and leadership"
The report outlines four main opportunities to cut emissions:
- Smart electrical grids would, among other things, use information to help balance supply and demand, provide real-time information, and increase automation.
- Road transportation is particularly attractive in the US, where high car-ownership rates and how goods are distributed help make the country responsible for 45 percent of all vehicle miles driven in a year. Technology would improve and change how people drive.
- Smart buildings rely on both design and embedded technology to reduce consumption of energy. Advancement in this area would yield increased efficiency of new and existing buildings in the US, where buildings account for 40 percent of the country's CO2 emissions.
- Travel substitution brings work to the employee instead of bringing the employee to work, yielding an estimated $15 billion to $30 billion in gross savings through 2020. Today's technology can already replace in-person meetings with remote collaboration and conferencing.
Verizon provides advanced communications and IT solutions for business and government customers to help them work more efficiently and protect the environment. The offerings include global IP-based networks that facilitate e-commerce; mobility solutions that enable telecommuting; collaboration solutions for virtual meetings; and electronic billing options, which can significantly reduce the use of paper.
The SMART report calls for a concerted effort among federal, state and local government, industry, academia, and consumers. The report also calls for government implementation of policies that accelerate the of promising information and communications technology.
At a minimum, the report concludes, government should serve as a proponent of public-private collaborations and advocate for bottom-up behavioural change.