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The real climate and transformative impact of ICT



This dataset includes the underlying data used for figures in the review article "The real climate and transformative impact of ICT: A critique of estimates, trends and regulations" (Freitag, C., Berners-Lee, M., Widdicks, K., Knowles, B., Blair, G., & Friday, A.). The data summarises peer-reviewed estimates for the greenhouse gas emissions from the ICT sector in the past and future.

Figure 1 (Figure 1.csv): Estimates of ICT’s carbon footprint from studies published before 2015.

Figure 2 (Figure 2.csv): Estimates for global ICT’s carbon footprint in 2015 and 2020. Note that for Malmodin and Lundén (2018) estimates, TV includes TV networks and other consumer electronics, whereas for the Andrae and Edler (2015) estimates, only TVs themselves and TV peripherals are included. Belkhir and Elmeligi (2018) did not include TVs. Malmodin and Lundén (2018)’s original estimates for the ICT and E&M sector includes paper media which we have excluded here.

Figure 3 (Figure 3.csv): Proportional breakdown of ICT’s carbon footprint, excluding TV. Andrae and Edler (2015)’s Best Case is displayed because more recent analysis by the lead author suggest that this scenario is most realistic for 2020. Note that Malmodin’s estimate of the share of user devices is highest; this is mostly because Malmodin’s network and data centre estimates are lower than those of the other studies.

Figure 4 (Figure 4.csv): Projections of ICT’s GHG emissions from 2020. Belkhir and Elmeligi (2018) judge their exponential scenario as most realistic while the linear growth scenario is more conservative and reflects the impact of mitigating actions be- tween now and 2040. Malmodin and Lundén (2018) did not make concrete estimates beyond 2020, but Malmodin suggests ICT’s carbon footprint in 2020 could halve by 2030—offering a 2030 estimate of 365 MtCO2e in a recent techUK talk (Malmodin, 2020). Belkhir requested their raw data was kept confidential, so it is not included in this .csv file.

Figure 6 (Figure 6.csv): ICT emissions, assuming the 2020 level (adjusted for truncation error) remains stable until 2050, and global CO2 emissions reduced in line with 1.5◦C under scenario SSP2-19. We assume most of ICT’s emissions are from CO2 because a large proportion of its footprint is from electricity consumption and there are no agricultural components. The comparison to CO2 emissions was chosen because reliable budgets do not exist for GHG emissions at this point.

Supplementary Material, Appendix:
Figure B.1 (Figure B.1.csv): Andrae and Edler’s projections for GHG emissions from ICT by year.
Date made available2021
PublisherLancaster University

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