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EU calls for energy efficiency through ICT

European Commissioner Viviane Reding has urged member states to use information and communication technologies to consume less power and combat climate change.
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Written by Tom Espiner on

The European Commission has called on member states to use information and communication technologies to improve energy efficiency, in an ongoing regional push to combat climate change and aid economic recovery.

In addition, the Commission will introduce concrete measures to encourage the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to reduce emissions, it said in a statement last week. As part of this, it plans to ask the ICT sector to set itself targets to become more energy efficient. For these targets, the Commission will work with the ICT industry to come up with a common approach to measurement of energy performance and benchmarking progress.

The Commission's statement echoes a speech made by Viviane Reding, information society and media commissioner, at a Microsoft event in Brussels. "We think ICT is the instrument we need to get the energy crisis solved," Reding said last week. "This is how you get high growth out of the connected economy."

ICT can help businesses improve the monitoring and management of their energy use and, through smart metering, it can help consumers control their power usage better, the Commission said.

"Targeting energy-efficient and low-carbon growth will help Europe face its biggest challenges: climate change, energy security and the economic crisis," Reding said in the Commission's statement. "ICT have an enormous untapped potential for saving energy right across the economy."

As part of its effort, the Commission plans to call for working partnerships between the ICT sector and the other major energy-using sectors, including construction and transport. These will be dedicated to boosting energy performance through the use of ICT tools for energy-efficient heating, ventilation, lighting and design.

At the event last week, Reding said that upcoming European Union telecoms legislation would also make Europe more green. "New telecommunications rules will guarantee the seamless market we need, and contribute ICT in the fight against climate change," she said.

While the carbon footprint of the technology sector itself was growing, Reding said that she believed the industry would "be capable of taking that in hand by itself", without the need for legislation. The European Union member states have pledged to reduce carbon output by 20 percent by 2020, using 1990 figures as a baseline.

Reding last week called on the technology industry to focus more efforts on research and development into sustainable technology. "How far could we get if all of our R&D efforts focused on green tech?" said Reding.

Reding added that she "had a dream of a totally green city" in which traffic management, energy supply, IT networks, urban infrastructure and waste management were all connected and "optimized for green use".

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