Thanks to its continuous innovation, the ICT sector provides essential technologies to help Europe reach its green ambitions and enable the transition towards a more circular economy. In addition to this potential, the ICT sector itself has the responsibility to tackle its own environmental footprint, estimated at 5-9% of the world’s total electricity use and more than 2% of all emissions.
The European Commission has set a goal in its Digital Strategy from 2020 that data centres should be carbon neutral by 2030. In addition, for telecommunications networks the Commission committed to additional transparency measures. Both type of infrastructures carry the promise of new jobs in local communities but may also impact the environment of these communities.
One way of looking at the practical steps to reach this goal is through the inclusion of data centres in the scope of the Energy Efficiency Directive, currently being discussed by EU institutions. To increase use of renewable energy, improved energy efficiency of electronics and ICT equipment, further development of low carbon design, strengthened circularity of products and further utilising digital innovations are only a few of the tools the ICT sector can leverage to reduce the carbon footprint of both its products and operations and – ultimately - help achieve a greener society.
To achieve a green and digital transition the society needs to better understand the impact of data centres on the environment and climate. Initiatives like the European Green and Digital Coalition aim to develop methods to estimate the enablement (e.g. benefits in the form of reduced emission and avoidance).
In light of this background, the event will discuss existing best practices and explore the policy measures that are needed to make the data centres and electronic networks more sustainable and socially acceptable.
Roza Thun MEP and EIF Steering Committee Member
Nikolaos Kontinakis, Policy Officer, DG ENER European Commission
Maya Ormazabal, Director of Environment and Human Rights, Telefonica; Chairwoman of the ETNO Green Deal Task Force
Patrik Ohlund, Director Energy Markets EMEA, Microsoft
Carolina Koronen, Programme Manager, Environmental Coalition on Standards
Maria Rosa Gibellini, Director General, European Internet Forum
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