I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.
Smart cars can have a postive impact on our ability to tackle climate change - but only if they are implemented in a joined up fashion. According to Patrick Pax of Orange Business Services talking at the at the Orange Business Live event, in 2020, the average European car (using traditional fossil fuels) will emit 140g of CO2 per kilometer. Smart cars, using electric batteries, will be very common by 2020, but if they are not charged at appropriated times, they could actually consume 165g of CO2 per kilometer. Basically, if everyone charged their electric car when they get home from work, say at 7pm, then the cost of providing sufficient energy will be very high, and force utilities to call upon coal and gas.
However, if cars are charged at off-peak times, when electricity supply can be more smoothed out, emissions could be as low as 18g of CO2 per kilometer. The role that telecoms has is enabling the communication between the car and the smart grid. The car's owner can set the car to charge at off-peaks times (which can be vary from day to day), and perhaps pay a lower cost per bit. With better visibility of demand, utilities will be able to source more of their energy from renewable sources (sun during the day, wind at night).