E-Business/ICT and Carbon Emissions

E-Business/ICT and Carbon Emissions

Lan Yi (China University of Geosciences (Wuhan), China)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1945-6.ch098
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The high-tech industry, its associated Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), and subsequent e-business and Internet applications, have had profound effects on our economic lives, social development and environment. This revolutionary change is not only appreciated by computer gurus, but also by private and public organisations. This chapter attempts to focus on the relationship between the e-business/ICT and carbon emission–one of the causes of global warming. Aspects to be considered include energy consumption and CO2 emission associated with the Internet throughout its lifecycle-from manufacturing of Internet equipment/hardware to its usage and final disposal. On the other hand how Internet technology facilitates environment management and benefits industries via, for example Carbon Trading, will be discussed. The aim of this chapter is to provide a clarification and comprehensive picture of the carbon impact of ICT/e-business to private and public organisations as well as individuals, especially some “behind-the-scene” type of facts. Therefore environmental factors can be taken into account for more informed decision-making during business conduction.
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Mark P. Mills, one of the earliest to study the environmental impact of the Internet, claimed the energy consumed by Internet totalled about 8% of all US electricity use in 1998 and predicted it would grow to half of all electricity use in the next decade (Mills, 1999). These figures were claimed to be “significantly overestimated” by the Energy End-Use Forecasting and Market Assessment Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) (EUF, 2004). The debate reached an unprecedented level when the US House Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs held hearings on “Kyoto and the Internet: the Energy Implications of the Digital Economy” on February 2nd 2000. At that hearing, Jay Hakes, Joseph Romm, and Mark Mills, the most authoritative and active figures in this research field testified. However, no unanimous conclusion was drawn as everybody looked at the problem from different angles and considered different system boundaries. Following this hearing, there were a few rounds of debates and rebuttals between Mills, LBNL etc, which received lots of attention in the media.

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