Carbon Disclosure Project: Leverage Broadband Access for Growth

The Carbon Disclosure Project says broadband—and increased access to it on a global basis—is the key to stimulating new, sustainable economic growth.

CDP, a London non-profit that claims to hold the “largest database of primary corporate climate change information in the world,” outlined the broadband opportunity in a 24-page paper released late last month “Building a 21st Century Communications Economy.”

Demand for oil by China and India is forecast to average more than 20 million barrels per day by 2030, according to CDP, a level that’s more than twice Saudi Arabia’s production. Natural resources, especially oil, are becoming harder to access and more expensive to buy, so when talking about strategic action CDP says there is an alternative: creation of a “low carbon, low-environmental impact economy through greater investment in advanced communication networks.”

As Paul Dickinson, executive chairman of CDP, aptly explains, “We are at a historic moment where nations will either enter into a contest for finite resources, where everyone is guaranteed to lose, or we can enter into a golden age of economic growth, without the serious threat of climate change, built on the enormous potential of communications.

“The 19th century saw massive advances in agriculture and the 20th century was defined by manufacturing. We have the opportunity to define economic growth in the 21st century by advanced communication networks where economic opportunity is not limited by time, distance, or geography.”

Economic value, he continues, “will increasingly reside in bits and bytes, rather than molecules and atoms of products and commodities, in effect, decoupling greenhouse gas emissions from growth.”

The paper says that as the cost of energy increases along with competition for resources, the most successful companies will be those that can generate value without increasing carbon emissions.

CDP’s analysis says the average Information Communications Technology (ICT) company generates more than $4,000 of net income per company for every metric ton of CO2 equivalent emitted. This is double that of the Consumer Staples sector and seven times that of the Materials sector, showing that ICT companies are well positioned to continue to grow in a low carbon, resource efficient economy.

Dan Esty, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) says, “ICT can help customers and business to become more sustainable. By acting as the platform, ICT can be used to drive emissions reductions…instead of having people fly for a 2 or 3 hour meeting, it is much more cost effective and sustainable to have the meeting via telepresence. Telecommuting enables employees to work from home and reduces the carbon footprint.”

Broadband-based applications such as teleconferencing and e-commerce reduce GHG emissions by reducing travel and production of physical products. The American Consumer Institute says that approximately 1 billion metric tons of GHG emissions will be saved in the U.S. over a 10-year period through broadband-based applications.

But to realize those potential GHG savings access to broadband is critical, CDP says.

Sticking with oil is simply not a sustainable strategy for growth and a sustainable planet; it’s old Oil Age thinking straight out of the Big Oil playbook. It is possible to grow sustainably and reduce GHGs drastically, and as CDP points out, it can happen now.

[Image Credit: Carbon Disclosure Project, “Building a 21st Century Communications Economy.”]

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