By Mae Kowalke
People working in the Chinese information and communications technology (ICT) industry are open to the concept of going green, but need support and education to achieve carbon reduction targets using technology. That is the conclusion of a recent research study conducted at China’s Tsingua University Media Lab on behalf of Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) titled, “Green Information Communications Technology in China.”
The study involved surveying 1,072 ICT industry professionals from enterprises, associations, government departments, and higher education institutions in Beijing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Nanjing. It found that most Chinese companies are aware of green technology efforts. In fact, 59 percent of respondents plan to go green. More than 90 percent of the professionals who participated believe technology can support a low-carbon economy through energy consumption reductions and motivating society to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“The study found that 39 percent of businesses in China planned to reduce carbon emissions by 1-20 percent within the next three to five years with the national target of 17 percent in China’s 12th five-year plan,” ALU noted in announcing the research. “However there was resistance to adopting more sustainable policies due to what they see as high capital, time and human resource investment requirements,” they stated.
This suggests that a coordinated approach between the Chinese government, education authorities, enterprises and the technology industry will be the most successful way to reduce carbon emissions on a national scale using ICT.
“The relationship between ICT and the environment is complex and multi-faceted,” noted Rajeev Singh-Molares, President of Alcatel-Lucent’s Asia-Pacific Region, in the report. “Enterprises, government bodies and academic institutions need to work in tandem to spur the development and innovation of green ICT through environmentally sustainable models.”
Education is a key component of driving growth of ICT applications in a green economy.
Although the ICT industry in China overall has a consistently high view of this technology’s role in a green economy, knowledge levels of survey respondents varied when it came to ICT applications for carbon emissions reduction.
“Only 7.1 percent of enterprise respondents, 3.9 percent of college respondents and 16.7 percent of respondents from relevant departments of the government/associations could identify ten low-carbon technology applications… Respondents of ICT enterprises were most knowledgeable about green ICT’s ability to improve logistics and to provide alternatives to face to face communication,” the researchers found.
Based on results of this research study, ALU recommended that the Chinese government take several steps to promote ICT as a means of achieving carbon emission reductions and growing the green economy:
- Strengthen awareness of how to implement green ICT
- Educate IT professionals and organizational leaders about ICT’s potential beyond lowering IT costs
- Actively promote relevant policy implementation
- Explore radical approaches that go beyond making existing infrastructure more efficient
“With the information industry becoming one of China’s fastest growing economic sectors, green ICT provides a leapfrogging opportunity to mitigate some of the challenges in our environment, including climate change, energy efficiency and biodiversity among others,” Singh-Molares concluded.