IT solutions offer cost and climate benefits

Posted on 26 March 2009

Existing IT technologies can produce dramatic reductions in harmful CO2 emissions while fully meeting the demands of today’s corporations, two new WWF reports are demonstrating.  At a cost of less than one and a half aircraft, a global network of more than 4000 high quality video-conferencing centres could produce major emissions savings while teleworking could produce reductions of half current US emissions by 2050.
Washington, DC – Existing information technologies (IT) can produce dramatic reductions in harmful CO2 emissions while fully meeting the demands of today’s corporations, two new WWF reports are demonstrating.

Virtual Meetings and Climate Innovation in the 21st Century highlights the significant impact employee travel makes on a company’s total carbon footprint – accounting for 50% or more among non-manufacturing companies.

“Creating a global network of more than 4,000 high quality videoconferencing studios in cities around the world would help build a new infrastructure for the 21st century and would cost less than one and a half airplanes,” said Dennis Pamlin, a WWF-US Policy Advisor and co-author of the reports.

From Workplace to Anyplace highlights opportunities to employ existing technologies that enable one or more individuals to work or collaborate remotely. This would create new efficiencies and cut emissions created by daily commuting or business air travel.

In the report’s “smart world” scenario, where policies and IT industry users contribute to a climate smart future, roughly one billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions are avoided through tele-work in year 2030–an amount equivalent to the total current annual carbon dioxide emissions from the United Kingdom and Italy combined.

By the year 2050, tele-work could reduce almost 3.5 billion tons of emissions–equivalent to more than half of the United States’ current CO2 emissions.

The report also says that developed countries may deliver the majority of greenhouse gas emissions with increased tele-working in the short term, but developing countries can deliver the bulk of the reductions in the long term.

According to the reports, which were independently authored by WWF together with leading academic experts and with funding support from HP and Microsoft, collaboration is fundamental. Business and policy makers can deliver a low carbon future, but they must work together to achieve meaningful results

“IT can be a significant driver of greenhouse gas reductions, but we need strong global climate policy to ensure these solutions are implemented at the speed and scale necessary to make a difference,” said Pamlin.

“This research tells us that if relatively simple measures are implemented globally, we can achieve annual emissions reductions equal to at least half of current U.S. total annual emissions by 2050.

“But we must start to walk in the right direction now, before it’s too late.”
As part of this research, a carbon calculator for policymakers and businesses was developed and is available online at

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© WWF / Nigel Dickinson