One of the most significant ways of achieving substantial reductions in CO2 is by shifting from a high-carbon physical infrastructure to a low-carbon virtual infrastructure based on the evolving information society and smart technology – what we call information and communications technology (ICT).
Much of the focus to date has been on sectors with high-carbon emissions, such as energy and transport. However, it is just as important to understand how improving low-carbon infrastructure and strengthening other services will affect CO2 emissions. Investments in broadband, for example, are paving the way for ICT-based services, such as the increased use of virtual meetings to enhance teleworking, the rollout of telemedicine services, and smart homes, where energy management plays a central role in replacing traditional high-carbon solutions.
To support the transition to low-carbon ICT-based solutions, society needs to know to what extent the new solutions will reduce CO2 emissions. And given that discussions about climate change take a long-term view, this perspective must be reflected in the LCA studies that are used as input for the discussions.
This paper presents a holistic methodology for measuring CO2 emissions. Armed with data from these measurements, society can finally begin to assess a large number of solutions, understand the magnitude of reductions (including infrastructure changes over time) and understand where these reductions will take place.