New Study: Online Activities Can Save Energy and Cut CO2 by Millions of Metric Tons

New Study: Online Activities Can Save Energy and Cut CO2 by Millions of Metric Tons

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New Study: Broadband = innovation = big energy savings. #GeSI #ICT #CSR

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - 5:30pm

CAMPAIGN: Sustainability


This blog post was authored by Chris Lloyd on Verizon's Responsibility Blog.

Increased use of simple and convenient online activities like teleworking and online shopping can reduce carbon emissions by millions of metric tons and deliver significant energy savings, according to a report issued Tuesday, June 19 by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative.

Entitled “Measuring the Energy Reduction Impact of Selected Broadband-Enabled Activities Within Households,” the study looks at eight consumer activities enabled by the development of broadband technology:

  • Telecommuting
  • Use of the Internet as a primary news source
  • Downloading video or music
  • Online banking
  • Online auctions/purchases
  • Online education
  • Use of digital photography
  • Use of E-mail

The study concludes that under ideal circumstances, and assuming an upper end of reasonable adoption of all eight activities, the U.S. could generate an annual net energy savings of about 336 million barrels of oil. France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. could generate an annual net energy savings of 164 million barrels of oil. In total, the six countries featured in the study could achieve net energy savings equivalent to 2 percent of their total annual energy consumption. Telecommuting provided the largest energy benefit, generating about 83 to 86 percent of net energy savings respectively.

Note: If you are interested in learning more, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) economist John A. Laitner, who led the GeSI study, will explain the findings during a webinar on 26 June 2012 at 11:00 EDT/17:00 CET. To register or learn more about the webinar, please visit this site to register or for more info.

What’s encouraging about this study is the finding that greater use of broadband infrastructure will continue to spur innovation and support the transition to a more sustainable economy. This is good for two reasons. First, this is exactly the direction of the marketplace and consumer demand. Second, Verizon is leading the way through its continued investment in 4G LTE technology and through its recent launch of some of the country’s fastest Internet speeds, with FiOS speeds of up to 300/65 Mbps.

What’s needed is a policy environment that is as fast as our networks and encourages investment in and use of broadband services so we can acquire the scale required to achieve the energy efficiency benefits of broadband across whole communities or entire cities. 

In 2008, GeSI’s landmark SMART2020 report demonstrated the role of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and broadband in making the world’s energy infrastructure more efficient. The report concluded that smart grids, buildings and transport along with travel substitution could reduce global carbon emissions by 15% by 2020.

I’m proud to write that Verizon helped fund this study. We have a vested interested in having a deeper understanding into the positive impact that broadband-enabled services are delivering, like energy savings.