Broadband can help Australians save money and cut their carbon footprint, according to new research.
Green consultants Climate Risk Australia today released a report under the banner Towards a high bandwidth, low carbon future, detailing how telecommunications networks can combat climate change.
"Telecommunications networks have unparalleled access to Australian households and businesses through which they can provide solutions to climate change," said Dr Karl Mallon, director of science and systems at Climate Risk Australia and author of the report.
Estimates in the report indicate that telecommunications networks can help reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by up to five percent by 2015, and save Australian businesses and households as much as AU$6.6 billion annually.
The report identified seven areas in which the telecommunications industry could implement solutions to cut carbon emissions, ranging from the use of broadband to remotely manage power for appliances not in use or left on stand-by, to using teleworking and high-definition video conferencing to decrease reliance on commuting by car and air travel.
The report emphasised what Mallon described as "the link between emissions abatement and commercial viability". He added: "Our analysis found that by harnessing smarter networks and devices it is possible to deliver reduced emissions while also reducing expenditure on energy for the end user."
Mallon said many of the figures arrived at in the report were "conservative", as they did not take into account the potential effect of carbon emissions trading.
"We're not sure at this stage how emissions trading will work," said Mallon, "but when we have emissions trading carbon will become a budget item."
As Labor and the Coalition both continue to spruik the idea of a national high-speed broadband rollout in the lead-up to the federal election, Mallon said that any such proposed broadband scheme would be "an ideal opportunity to implement some of the things we've been talking about".
"What we need is a sustainability revolution, and broadband would be one of the most important parts of this," said Greg Bourne, CEO of the World Wildlife Fund Australia.
The report was commissioned by Telstra, who described it as an "initial contribution to the debate" over ICT and climate change, in a statement released today.
Sol Trujillo, CEO of Telstra, said he was "initially taken aback by the findings".
Telstra says it has taken some steps to implement green practices within the company, such as installing GPS in all vehicles in their fleet, which according to the company, has reduced fuel consumption by five percent.