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

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Published
Article number100340
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/09/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Patterns
Issue number9
Volume2
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

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.