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    The role of ICT in reducing global emissions

    The ICT sector has a significant role to play in the fight against climate change by enabling sectors such as transport, buildings, power and industry to optimize their energy consumption. Key players in ICT believe that their technologies could contribute to a reduction of up to 15% of global CO2 emissions by 2020. Potential opportunities are diverse:

    • Smart grids: improving network efficiency, developing electricity demand management solutions (“demand-response”)(4).
    • Transport: optimizing truck routes, developing low-emission vehicles
    • Buildings: better automation of energy consuming devices (lighting, heating, air conditioning), improving building design…
    • Industry: optimizing electric motors, ICT driven automation…
    • Dematerialization: teleworking, videoconferencing, e-paper…

    The ICT sector can improve its own energy efficiency

    The ICT sector contributes to around 2% of world greenhouse gas emissions, a contribution equal to that of the global aviation sector. This figure is set to rapidly increase in years to come. To put this in to perspective, the number of PCs will increase to around 4 billion by 2020, compared to approximately 1 billion in 2007. As a result, emissions linked to the use of PCs, mobile phones, telecom infrastructures and data centers could double between 2007 and 2020.

    It is however possible to make significant changes in energy efficiency to limit the emissions associated to such growth. Key players have estimated that further technological advances in terms of energy efficiency could compensate for the increase in PC demand between now and 2020. This trend has been supported by customers such as the American government that requires that IT purchases be Energy Star compliant. Companies and individuals have also started to consider environmental factors in their purchasing decisions.

    Important social opportunities

    The ICT sector, and in particular publishers, broadcasters and other content creators, have an important role to play in further developing access to information, education, communication and culture. Accessible products that improve access to and use of mobile communication and the internet have a positive impact on the lives of individuals and the economy. To put this into perspective, it is estimated that a 10% increase in the telecommunications penetration rate would result in a growth of 1% of GDP. While these issues affect everyone, they are even more significant for the disadvantaged populations; For example, one of the UN’s development goals relating to ICT prioritizes equitable access across countries as well as the communities within them.



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    In addition to the identification of business models that respond to sustainable development challenges, a CSR policy review of quality is systematically carried out prior to stock selection (management systems analysis, investigation of controversy, etc.). This is done to confirm that the company is relevant to the investment theme and ensures that the overall business operations are consistent with the sustainable development positioning of the company’s products and/or services.

    This analysis focuses on key areas, for example: social issues in the electronic hardware supply chain and responsible diffusion of information by content creators and broadcasters (i.e. not abetting censorship, ‘green washing’, discrimination, etc.).

    (1) GeSI - McKinsey, 2008, SMART 2020 - “Enabling the low carbon economy in the information age”
    (2) GeSI - McKinsey, 2008, SMART 2020 - “Enabling the low carbon economy in the information age”
    (3) ITU, 2012, The Impact of Broadband on the Economy: Research to Date and Policy Issues
    (4) The "demand-response" is a model for electricity producers, used in collaboration with their customers, to reduce electricity demand during peak hours by planning the use of different appliances. This model allows both reduced costs for the electrician and reduced environmental impacts from electricity generation since "peak electricity" is usually produced by the most polluting technologies.