Our vision is to assure a positive contribution of digital technologies to improving energy security and resource utilisation, and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the EU, and creating avenues for innovation and growth. Standardised measurement methodologies for capturing energy/GHG footprints help identify where improvements can be made, increase transparency and establish clarity, set a fair basis for competition, market growth and job creation around Greener technologies.
On the enabling impact of ICT, the water and waste sectors are two key ones where efficiencies that can be achieved when advanced ICT technology is deployed for the management of the two above sectors play a central role in meeting the needs of a growing global population within the sustainable limits of the planet's natural resources and eco-systems.
Our Priority is
Although digital technologies can potentially contribute to resource efficiency and emission reductions in other sectors (e.g. buildings, transport, energy, water), it remains unclear under what conditions such benefits can be achieved.
There exist compelling examples of the application of digital technologies with positive environmental benefits, however often difficult to distinguish from greenwashing; the evidence base remains too anecdotal.
The rate at which the energy efficiency of ICT is improving is outpaced by the rapidly increasing deployment of ICT (services and related infrastructure) and the sector's overall energy demands.
In addition to growing energy needs, ICT also constitutes one of the fastest growing waste streams.
There is a lack of consumer awareness of the physical needs of the virtual world.
Although many ICT companies report their GHG emissions voluntarily, they are not meaningful because underlying methodologies used are often not identified and/or are different.
There is scope for companies offering solutions and services for measurement and for verification of footprint reporting, but this market is still in its infancy.
Regarding the enabling impact of ICT in the water and waste sectors:
The water-sector is characterised today notably by the fragmentation of solutions (implementation within the sector itself on a case-by-case basis, restricted geographical reach, and limited interoperability with other sectors - e.g. health, energy, transport – which undermines – among others - the development of integrated services and solutions in urban contexts) and the lack of interoperability across water national/international information systems.
While the European economy is highly dependent in many fields on rare-earth materials and the volume of (electronic in particular) waste that is produced today creates high pressure to the environment, there is untapped potential of the ICT in improving waste management, recyclability of materials, and creation of citizen awareness in handling waste.
Own staff, links with CONNECT units dealing with next-generation ICT.
Methodologies for capturing the environmental footprint of ICT- Goods Networks, Services, and Organisations agreed by Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) with support from the ICT sector (see http://www.ict-footprint.com/)
Pilots, technical input, studies, stakeholder workshops and public consultations as input to further policy/ regulatory proposals
H2020 to support research and innovation
An initiative (lead service DG ENV) "A Single Market for Green Products" (http://ec.europa.eu/environment/eussd/smgp/index.htm) that proposes Methodologies for measuring the environmental performance throughout the lifecycle of products and organisations (including of ICT ones) and promotes their use by Member States, companies, private organisations and the financial community through a Commission Recommendation (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/JOHtml.do?uri=OJ:L:2013:124:SOM:EN:HTML). It further announces a three-year testing period to develop product- and sector-specific rules through a multi-stakeholder process. DG CONNECT encourages the participation of ICT-organisations in the above pilots.
On water, launch new research initiatives on developing and deploying advanced ICT-solutions in the water sector with the aim, in particular, to increase interoperability between water information systems at EU and national levels, and efficiency of water resources management in agriculture and urban areas.
On waste, launch notably new research initiatives aiming at developing and deploying innovative ICT solutions for waste traceability, waste material flow management, and the estimation of the availability, composition and quality of waste; and developing roadmaps addressing the electronic waste coming from the ICT sector.
Deployment at scale of ICT solutions to improve energy efficiency and GHG reductions.
Coherent framework of sector-specific methodologies for measuring the environmental performance of the ICT-sector:
Development of Product Category Rules (for a definition of PCRs see: http://cfpub.epa.gov/si/si_public_record_Report.cfm?dirEntryId=239692) for the ICT-sector under the initiative "A Single Market for Green Products" to ensure that the above Methodology (that is likely to provide the basis of legislative actions) is relevant to the ICT-sector.