The U.S. communications giant AT&T has four words of greenhouse gas reduction wisdom for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): “information and communications technology.”
In a letter to the EPA last week, AT&T says the information and communications technology (ICT) sector offers “tools outside the traditional toolbox” for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. While the EPA’s proposed changes to the Clean Air Act focus on improved efficiencies in transportation, utilities and industry, the U.S. should tap the benefits of ICT to reap even greater greenhouse gas reductions, wrote Wayne Watts, AT&T’s senior executive vice president and general counsel for the legal department.
“ICT offers opportunities for companies to reduce their GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions while increasing both their energy and their economic efficiency,” Watts stated. “Such opportunities provide the greatest flexibility for companies to reduce their GHG emissions at the earliest opportunity, and potentially accelerate occasions to reduce GHG emissions sooner and in a more cost efficient manner than might otherwise be available.”
The letter pointed to emissions-reducing strategies such as:
- Telecommuting, teleconferencing and other services that can reduce travel demands;
- Centralized data management and other services that maximize ICT efficiencies;
- “Dematerializing” public and commercial activities with electronic billing and online delivery of government services, education, music, videos and research;
- Next-generation dispatching, planning and GPS services to “rationalize” transportation and distribution systems; and
- Improving energy efficiency in buildings with improved energy monitoring and delivery systems.
If this all sounds vaguely familiar, there’s a reason for it: AT&T’s recommendations echo many of those recently provided in The Climate Group’s “Smart 2020” report. Of course, with ICT being AT&T’s area of expertise, a Marshall Plan for improved information and communications efficiencies would certainly also benefit the company’s bottom line as well as curb carbon emissions.