The European Commission (EU) called on Europe's information and communication technologies (ICT) industry to outline by 2011 the practical steps it will take to become 20 per cent more energy efficient by 2015. ICT equipment and services alone account for about 8 per cent of electrical power used in the EU and about 2 per cent of carbon emissions. But using ICT in a smart way could help reducing energy consumption in energy-hungry sectors such as buildings, transport and logistics, and save 15 per cent in total carbon emissions by 2020. The Commission recommends that the ICT sector adopts bold energy efficiency targets by 2011. It also asks EU countries to agree on common specifications for smart metering by the end of 2010.

"Making better use of innovative ICT solutions will help us meet Europe's objectives of a low-carbon economy. The ICT sector can show the way to a more sustainable, environmental-friendly growth and give a boost to green jobs in Europe," said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, in a release.

The ICT sector must seize the chance to lead the way in energy-efficient technologies not only because it is the best way to achieve sustainable cuts in CO2 emissions, but because the ecological potential of these technologies can open up new business opportunities for European ICT companies, he added.

The Commission today adopted a recommendation saying the ICT sector should lead the transition to an energy-efficient and low-carbon economy. The Commission demands the ICT sector to agree on common methodologies for measuring energy consumption and carbon emissions by 2010. As a result, more reliable data should be available to set ambitious sector targets for energy efficiency and emission cuts by 2011. These sector targets should aim overtaking the EU's 2020 targets already by 2015.

The commissions recommendation to the EU member states and the ICT sector, aims to unlock energy efficiency potential through more public-private partnership initiatives, like the ones recently launched by the Commission on energy efficient buildings and green cars ( IP/09/1116 ), but also through partnerships between the ICT industry and defined strategic sectors. In particular, the buildings, transport and logistics sectors are identified as key economic sectors where energy efficiency through the use of ICT is still largely untapped.

The Commission also asked EU countries to use ICT-based solutions to improve energy efficiency. Smart grids and smart metering systems can improve production efficiency and control, and the distribution and consumption of energy. EU member states have until the end of 2010 to agree on a common specification for smart metering to provide consumers with better information and help them manage their energy consumption. With smart metering in their homes, for example, consumers could reduce their energy consumption by as much as 10 per cent. A timeframe for the roll out of smart metering in European households should be agreed at the latest by the end of 2012.

Other examples of the ecological potential of ICTs mentioned in the text adopted by the Commission are - if Europe were to replace only 20 per cent of all business trips by video conferencing this could save more than 22 million tons of CO2 per year. Also, the roll-out of broadband networks facilitating an increased use of online public services and applications could save at least 12 per cent of total energy use worldwide by 2020.

The Commission recommendation results from a public survey completed in September 2009 that confirmed the need for a coordinated approach by the ICT sector to improve its energy and environmental performance and the importance of common commitments to meet the targets set.

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