Brussels, 12 March 2009
As part of its effort to combat climate change and drive economic recovery, the European Commission today called on Member States and industry to use information and communications technologies (ICT) to improve energy efficiency. These technologies are expected to reduce total carbon emissions in Europe by up to 15% by 2020. ICT can not only improve monitoring and management of energy use in factories, offices and in public spaces but above all help make people more aware of how they use energy. With smart metering in their homes, for example, consumers have been found to reduce their energy consumption by as much as 10%.
"Targeting energy-efficient and low-carbon growth will help Europe face its biggest challenges: climate change, energy security and the economic crisis." said Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "ICT have an enormous untapped potential for saving energy right across the economy. I personally would recommend to the ICT sector to show the way for the rest of the economy by reducing its own carbon footprint already by 2015 by 20%. I see from the response of European ICT companies to the Commission's ongoing work that Europe is already well ahead in using ICT for greening the economy."
Spreading the use of technologies that allow people and business to carry out their daily activities in a more energy efficient way are crucial to meeting the EU's 2020 climate change goals. ICT are now embedded in almost all parts of Europe's economy.
The ICT sector itself is responsible for 2% of carbon emissions in Europe: 1.75% resulting from the use of ICT products and services, and 0.25% from their production. While the ICT sector should set itself ambitious targets for improving its own energy and carbon footprint it will lead to the biggest energy-efficiency gains when used in the wider economy. The use of ICT across all sectors of the economy and society can reduce the remaining 98% of European emissions.
ICT-enabled systems can reduce, for example, energy consumption of buildings in the EU by up to 17% and carbon emission in transport logistics by up to 27%.
Smart meters can give consumers comprehensive information about their energy consumption and its cost. Results from trials in a number of Member States show that using smart meters can lower energy consumption by up to 10%. Smart meters generate more accurate information on consumer demand, which in turn can be used by electricity suppliers to manage their own networks in such a way as to reduce unnecessary production, losses and thus lower carbon emissions.
Today the Commission announced its intention to set out concrete measures that will pave the way for ICT to contribute to energy efficiency gains and emission reductions. It will also call on the ICT sector to lead the way by setting itself concrete targets to become more energy efficient, by collectively agreeing a common approach to measuring energy performance and benchmarking progress.
The Commission also announced a new public consultation to establish a common base for commitments to and claims of improved energy efficiency. Only by identifying who does what within the set deadlines, that targets have a real chance of being achieved.
The Commission will adopt in the second half of 2009 a Recommendation with more specific measures once the results of this consultation have been analysed.
The Commission will also call for working partnerships between the ICT sector and the other major energy-using sectors (including buildings and construction and transport logistics) to further improve the energy performance through the use of energy-efficient ICT tools such as heating, ventilation, lighting and design,
Although smart metering is currently being discussed in the context of the third internal energy market package, the Commission will nevertheless call upon Member States to agree on EU-wide minimum functional specifications for smart metering that will enable consumers in particular to effectively manage their energy needs.
It will call upon Member States, central, regional and local authorities to take the lead in driving demand for innovative ICT-based solutions through procurement, innovation programmes, pilot projects and exchange of best practices. The Commission is working already with the Committee of the Regions on delivering a practical guide for regional and local authorities on improving energy performance through innovative use of ICT.
On 10 January 2007, the Commission adopted an energy and climate change package, endorsed by the European Parliament and by EU leaders at the March 2007 European Council, targeting a 20% increase in the use of renewable energy and a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2020 (IP/07/29). On 13 May 2008 the Commission announced that it would promote the role of ICT in meeting these goals by improving energy efficiency throughout the economy (IP/08/733). In December 2008, the EU reiterated its commitment to meeting these targets and stressed the urgency of improving energy efficiency (IP/08/1998).
Today's Communication, as well as a link to the new public consultation, is available at:
Voluntary ICT Sector commitments to targets and deadlines for
CO2 and Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG), and energy efficiency/consumption
* The baseline is the year in relation to which the reduction/improvement target is set.
Source: Appendix 4/75; Appendix 4: Company commitments of publication SMART 2020: Enabling the low carbon economy in the information age. A report by The Climate Group on behalf of the Global eSustainability Initiative (GeSI), GeSI [www.gesi.org] is an international strategic partnership of ICT companies and industry associations and EPA Climate Change Leaders Partnership website: