Friday, January 5, 2018

ICT Reduces National Carbon Emissions?

Hign, Gholami and Shirazi (2017) found an inverted U shaped relationship between ICT and carbon emissions between countries. The researchers  used an ICT Index, made up of telephone subscribers (both fixed and mobile), PCs and Internet use. They mapped this against carbon emissions for difference countries. At first emissions increase with ICT, but this then plateaus and then reduces. The authors conclude that "... sustainable environment may be linked to greater development of ICT ...". Of course it may be that use of ICT is just a side-effect and this is not a causal relationship. That is, it may be that as people get richer they can afford to use ICT more. On the other hand it may be that the reduction in the cost of ICT, with widespread access to broadband and smart phones in developing nations can reduce energy use.

Wagner's masters thesis (2017) explores the concept of a "Green Global Golden Age", where ICT decouples development from resource use. The author poits out that, not surprisingly, it is not that simple:  ICT can address social issues, as well as simply increasing material needs. ICT may not be able to simply substitute for material goods and in some cases social means may be a better option for improving wellbeing.


An Hign, D., Gholami, R., & Shirazi, F. (2017). ICT and environmental sustainability. Telematics and Informatics, 34(4), 85-95. URL

Wagner, K. C. (2017). Towards a Green Global Golden Age?: ICT enabled cornucopian sustainability and a suggestion for its reform. Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science. URL

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