Unless the IT industry adopts new energy-efficient technologies in the coming decade, it runs a serious risk of being unable to contribute to growing the global economy if limits are placed on carbon emissions. The findings come from an 18-month investigation by scholars at the Institute for Sustainable and Applied Infodynamics (ISAID) in Singapore and Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston.
"In the face of growing global concerns over greenhouse carbon emission, the key for the industry is finding new technologies that deliver more performance for each kilogram of CO2 emitted," said Rice computer scientist Krishna Palem, who directs ISAID, a joint institute of Rice and Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU). "Fortunately, there are viable technological options on the table and the information and communication industries have a strong track record of embracing new technologies."
The report found the information and communication technology (ICT) industry in the U.S. is on pace to grow its carbon emissions at twice the rate of its contributions to gross domestic product over the coming decade.
"In the U.S. in 2009, the economic output of the ICT industry per kilogram of CO2 emitted was about $2.83, and in a business-as-usual scenario, that output will fall to about $1.06 per kilogram of CO2 by 2020," said study co-author Chris Bronk, a fellow in technology, society and public policy at the Baker Institute and lecturer of computer science at Rice. "Based on those numbers, the industry is headed for a brick wall if limits are placed on CO2 emissions. In a carbon-constrained economy, green innovation will be absolutely essential for ICT profitability."
The report included a painstaking analysis of both the carbon emissions and the amount of gross domestic product (GDP) that are delivered each year by the information and communication technology (ICT) industry. The report also offers a new metr
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