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Novel ways to cut carbon

Posted 30/01/2013 by sevans

There are many ways to reduce our global carbon footprint, but among the more novel targets are emissions from the internet and telecommunications. The information communications and technology (ICT) industry, which delivers internet, voice and other cloud services, produces more than 830m t/year of the main greenhouse gas CO2, according to figures from the Centre for Energy-Efficient Telecommunications (CEET). That is about 2% of global CO2 emissions – roughly the same proportion as the aviation industry.

And the expectation is that ICT’s contribution will double to 4% of total CO2 emissions by 2020.

In the latest issue of the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, researchers from CEET and telecommunications major Bell Labs describe the development and testing of two new models of emissions and energy consumption that could help to reduce their carbon footprint by better estimating CO2 emissions. Tests of the models on a network serving schools in California, they report, suggest that more efficient use of facilities, energy-efficient equipment and renewable energy sources are the three keys to reducing ICT emissions of CO2.

There is also more we could do to help ourselves, of course – not printing more that we need, turning off equipment left on standby and discarding old emails that take up valuable space.

Elsewhere this week, consumers are also being urged to ditch their old loo paper, with estimates that Britain could save half a million tonnes of CO2 emissions/year if everyone moved to use recycled loo paper. ‘Recycled loo paper used to be a staple joke in the playground,’ according to Greensteve.com, a website that helps consumers to find the greenest deals. ‘If the entire country switched brands, we’d save the equivalent of 1.5bn road miles for the average car.’

Supermarket giant Tesco says its standard loo roll costs 2g of carbon per sheet, reduced to 1.3g for recycled paper, which means the average bottom can save 8.4kg CO2e/year simply by changing toilet roll brand, according to Greensteve.

It is not exactly rocket science, but every little helps.

Cath O’Driscoll, Deputy editor

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  • Anonymous said:
    21/06/2013 04:40

    I meant the other film on that page, about Cuba's strategy for coinpg with the energy famine of the 1990s. I should have been more specific, but I reckon it's right up your street. It's a lot more optimistic than The End of Suburbia.I've written to my MP, James Photoshop Purnell, though as always I have difficulty hiding my disgust at him and everything he stands for:Dear James Purnell,The Climate Change Bill is likely to get a second reading in December before being debated in Spring. While it is good to see environmental targets being enshrined in law, the law doesn't go nearly far enough, and I hope you will do what you can to make it go further. The three following amendments would be particularly welcome.1/ A higher 2050 targetEven Gordon Brown has acknowledged that a 60% cut in emissions may 2050 may not be satisfactory. Some prominent climate scientists go much further than that, and I hope we can commit to at least an 80% cut.2/ Binding annual targetsIf a week is a long time in politics, 43 years is an eternity. Few of us are convinced that governments would pay much attention to a 2050 target in setting day-to-day policy. We need legally-binding annual milestones on the way to any 2050 target, or the latter will become just so much aspirational PR.Incidentally, these milestones will be a great help to the businesses and entrepeneurs whose interests New Labour takes so seriously, and for whom the current uncertainty can only be frustrating.3/ Include shipping and aviationCurrently, emissions from shipping and aviation are excluded from the UK's emissions total. Given the amount contributed by these sectors, as well as the massive growth currently projected, this makes a mockery of the whole system. I have heard the justification that working out how much of the emissions associated with a flight are attributable to which country are too complex, but this is nonsense: attribute half the emissions to the country of departure and half to the country of arrival.The UK is on target to meet its Kyoto targets merely because of the savings inherent in the politically-motivated flight from coal to gas. As coal mining starts to expand once more, and with imminent massive airport expansion, there is a real danger of our emissions rising dramatically without strong government action. Even the U.N., in its latest reports, acknowledges the immense dangers posed by climate change to our very survival as a species, and I trust you will take these concerns as seriously as they merit.On an unrelated note, I also hope you take some steps in the aftermath of this Photoshop incident to reassure your constituents that their confidence in you is justified, perhaps by supporting the Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill introduced by Adam Price MP of Plaid Cymru.Yours sincerely,Dave Sewell

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