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ICT sector electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions – 2020 outcome

Reference Type: 

Journal Article

Malmodin, Jens, Nina Lövehagen, Pernilla Bergmark, and Dag Lundén. 2024. “ICT Sector Electricity Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions – 2020 Outcome.” Telecommunications Policy, 102701.

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector has gained much attention in the discussions on climate change, as it could impact global emissions both positively and negatively. The objective of the present study is to provide estimates for the 2020 use stage electricity consumption and ICT sector ’s total lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions divided in three main parts: user devices including internet-of-things, networks and data centers. The study builds on a high number of data sources including measured and reported data from 150 companies that is estimated to cover about 80% of network subscriptions, about 55% of data center electricity, and about 35% of upstream GHG emissions. To understand the development, the results are put into the perspective of earlier studies. In conclusion, the ICT sector used about 4% of the global electricity in the use stage and represented about 1.4% of the global GHG emissions in 2020. The use stage electricity consumption and the total GHG emissions have increased since 2015, but the impact per subscription has decreased. The user devices accounted for over half of all GHG emissions, with equal parts relating to use stage and other lifecycle stages. For networks and data centers, the use stage GHG emissions are dominating. The electricity consumption and GHG emissions are also estimated for the closely related areas Entertainment and Media (including e. g., TVs), paper media, and cryptocurrencies.

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