The real climate and transformative impact of ICT : A critique of estimates, trends and regulations

Freitag, Charlotte and Berners-Lee, Mike and Widdicks, Kelly and Knowles, Bran and Blair, Gordon and Friday, Adrian (2021) The real climate and transformative impact of ICT : A critique of estimates, trends and regulations. Patterns, 2 (9): 100340. ISSN 2666-3899

[thumbnail of freitag2021climate]
Text (freitag2021climate)
ClimateImpactOfICT_Paper.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial.

Download (224kB)


In this paper, we critique ICT's current and projected climate impacts. Peer-reviewed studies estimate ICT's current share of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at 1.8-2.8% of global GHG emissions; adjusting for truncation of supply chain pathways, we find this share could actually be between 2.1-3.9%. For ICT's future emissions, we explore assumptions underlying analysts' projections to understand the reasons for their variability. All analysts agree that ICT emissions will not reduce without major concerted efforts involving broad political and industrial action. We provide three reasons to believe ICT emissions are going to increase barring intervention and find not all carbon pledges in the ICT sector are ambitious enough to meet climate targets. We explore the underdevelopment of policy mechanisms for enforcing sector-wide compliance, and contend that without a global carbon constraint, a new regulatory framework is required to keep the ICT sector's footprint aligned with the Paris Agreement.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
?? ictcarbon footprintaibig datadata scienceiotblockchainpolicyregulations ??
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
06 Aug 2021 09:25
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 21:51