The European Commission has called on Europe's ICT industry to agree a common methodology for measuring energy consumption and carbon emissions by 2010, before using this standard measure to indicate how the industry will become 20% more energy efficient by 2015.
Obviously, in order to prove an enterprise's green credentials, it is crucial to have accurate data - without measurements, claims can be little more than hot air. And with the ICT sector particularly in the spotlight with regard to its energy and carbon performance, a common methodology is vital to ensure like-for-like measurement, preventing businesses from inflating their green positioning through obfuscation and misinformation - whether deliberate or accidental. With these common metrics in place, their use to set targets is a logical progression, and again ensure that like-for-like comparisons can be made, using common baseline data.
ComputerWeekly reported that the International Telecommunications Union has already developed a methodology for assessing the impact of the ICT sector on greenhouse gasses, and hopes to have it accepted as the standard model for other industries in the near future. The ITU said that 28 of the 31 meetings of contributors took place online in a period of nine months - normally such a process takes "years of face-to-face meetings", and the process saved "thousands of tonnes of CO2".
The EC is calling on the ICT industry to lead the progress toward green business, with the intention of meeting 2020 targets five years early, in 2015. ICT equipment and services account for around 8% of electrical power consumption and 2% of carbon emissions - significant, but arguably the EC may be able to generate more impressive reductions by targeting the aviation and manufacturing sectors, among others.
ICT technology can of course contribute to reductions in other sectors - if Europe replaced "only 20%" of all business trips by video conferencing, more than 22 million tonnes of CO2 could be saved each year. The buildings, transport and logistics sectors were identified as "key economic sectors where energy efficiency through the use of ICT is still largely untapped". In addition, the Commission is calling for the use of ICT solutions to improve efficiency, through the deployment of smart grids and smart metering systems.