Carbon Footprint and Employment Generation Produced by ICT Networks for Internet Deployment: A Multi-Regional Input-Output Analysis
Internet is widely regarded as a necessary resource for economic and social development. The availability of this technology requires the deployment of ICT networks which have implications not only on the natural surroundings but also on the human environment. Understanding the impact generated on key areas of socio-ecological concern such as carbon footprint and employment generation is essential to ensure well-informed decision-making. This investigation utilized multiregional environmentally extended input-output (MRIO) methodology to evaluate the carbon footprint and the employment generation associated with providing internet to six geo-demographic scenarios, from urban to remote rural, using Peru as a reference site. The results showed that most of the carbon emissions (289-340 kg CO2 eq./subs./yr.) and employment (7-8 jobs/subs./yr.) associated with larger ICT networks intended for urban and suburban areas was attributable to the manufacturing of end-user devices. The sustainability of smaller ICT networks for rural areas was dominated by the construction of shared infrastructures (mainly 4G LTE equipment), while the contribution of the energy consumed was in all cases limited. Although the analysis considered ICT networks deployed in Peru, most impacts were generated in China, where the manufacturing of the electronic components was assumed to take place. This analysis highlights the value of econometric methods for sustainability assessment such as MR-EEIO, which are complementary to the more conventional process-based E-LCA.
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