Internet economy

ICTs, the Environment and Climate Change


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Information and communication technologies (ICTs) can improve environmental performance and address climate change across the economy. The biggest gains for smarter environmental and economic strategies and applications are in power generation and distribution, buildings and transportation – three areas which contribute to the bulk of greenhouse gases. Further environmental benefits of ICT applications are evident in areas such as water management, biodiversity protection, pollution reduction.


ICT innovation is a key element to spur green growth in the economic crisis and recovery. However, OECD work suggests that most government and business initiatives are still following business-as-usual paths and do not sufficiently tap the sector’s innovation potential. 




Report: ICT Applications for the Smart Grid. Opportunities and Policy Implications

13/01/2012: The smart grid is revolutionizing electricity production and consumption. However, strategic use of ICTs and the Internet in energy innovation requires clarifying the roles of partners coming from distinct industries. And it begs for greater coordination of government departments and stakeholder communities that so far had unrelated competencies. This report outlines opportunities, challenges and public policy implications from shifts to ICT-enabled, "smart" electricity grids.


Conference and Report on "Smart ICTs and Green Growth", Paris

“Smart” ICTs can play a key role in addressing the green growth challenge in energy, transport and water management. The OECD held a technology foresight forum in Paris to discuss environmental opportunities, existing barriers and some potential risks to the wider roll-out of smart infrastructures. The website has the online webcast, presentations and an analytical background report for download.


OECD countries agree to tackle global environmental challenges through information and communication technologies (ICTs)

OECD governments agree to improve the use of information and communication technologies to tackle environmental challenges and accelerate green growth. The OECD Council Recommendation gives a ten-point checklist for government policy, including provisions on improving environmental impacts of ICTs (video available).


Smart sensor networks - technologies and applications for green growth

Sensor networks play an important role in tackling environmental challenges. Sensor applications in smart power grids, smart buildings and smart industrial processes make significant contributions to more efficient resource use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. This report gives an overview of sensor technologies and applications, and quantifies their environmental impacts.


DSTI and global partners discuss the role of “Green ICTs” at COP15 – without leaving their offices

The OECD's Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry (DSTI) held a “virtual” side-event on the role of ICTs for climate change during the UN Climate Change talks in Copenhagen, December 2009. The latest video conferencing technology joint Copenhagen, Paris and Tokyo with Bangalore and Hong Kong. Speakers from government and academia faced each other around a “virtual” table in high definition. At COP15, participants joined at the UNFCCC iSeeT-Kiosk (video webcast available).


“Green ICT” side-event at UN Climate Change talks in Barcelona, 5 November 2009

Innovation in ICTs is key to achieving ambitious CO2 emissions reductions. At the UN Climate Change talks in Barcelona - four weeks ahead of COP15 - the OECD, ITU, GeSI and international partners discussed how ICTs can help combat global warming.


Improving measurement of links between ICT and environmental outcomes

This report explores available statistics and data from official statistical sources and from product life cycle studies, suggests a conceptual framework for the statistical field “ICT and the environment” and makes recommendations on how to improve statistical collection.


Ministers stress the role of ICTs as part of global green growth agenda

Clean technologies and smart ICT applications are key to effectively fight climate change, protect biodiversity and manage our water resources. In the declaration on green growth, ministers from OECD countries and beyond underscore that “green” and “growth” can go hand in hand.


Conference on “ICTs, the environment and climate change”

How can ICTs slow down global warming, improve environmental performance and spearhead the economic recovery? ICT companies can punch above their weight in the fight against climate change. But there is lack of awareness of this potential in expert and policy communities beyond the ICT sector. In May 2009, high-level speakers from government, business,academia and civil society discussed how the OECD can help bridge these gaps (webcast and presentations available).


Towards Green ICT Strategies

Governments focus on greening ICTs rather than creating smart ICT applications. The OECD report analyses government programmes and business initiatives on ICT and the environment to address environmental challenges, particularly global warming and energy use (Executive summary (PDF)).


How can ICTs contribute to green growth?


Watch video responses on this issue:


Esko Aho

Vice President of Nokia
Former Prime Minister of Finland

(English, 4:20)

Charles Beigbeder

CEO of Poweo
Chair of the Commission for Research, Innovation and New Technologies at MEDEF (French Business Confederation)

(French, 3:32)

Further videos:




The OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy in June 2008 concluded that research and analysis of the environmental impact of ICTs and the Internet and the introduction of appropriate policies are essential for the development of the global Internet economy.


ICT innovation is a key element to achieve OECD government objectives in response to the economic crisis and environmental challenges. Work undertaken by the OECD Committee for Information, Computer and Communications Policy (ICCP) is particularly relevant for the  OECD Ministerial Meeting in June 2009, where governments co-ordinate international policy approaches to build a “stronger, cleaner, fairer economy”, as well as the UN Climate Change Conference in December 2009 (COP15).

Watch a video on this issue with
Arthur Mickoleit,
Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry

(English, 3:06)


Ongoing work


The OECD is

  • Developing a framework for analysis of ICTs and environmental challenges. The aim is to comprehensively model environmental effects of ICT production, use and their application across industry sectors.
  • Analysing existing indicators and statistics on the relationship between ICTs and the environment with the aim of improving availability and comparability of official statistics.
  • Identifying priority areas for policy action including life cycle analysis of ICT products and impact assessments of smart ICT applications. This work covers the potential of sensor-based technologies and broadband networks to monitor and address climate change and facilitate energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy.


Further information




Taylor Reynolds,

Head of Information Economy Group, Taylor.Reynolds [at]



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