The Climate Effect of Digitalization in Production and Consumption in OECD Countries

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Thomas Kopp
Steffen Lange

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How does increasing digitalization affect the environment? A number of studies predict that digitalization will ultimately reduce environmental degradation but seem to overestimate the emission-reducing effects of digitalization through increases in resource efficiency, while underestimating substantial rebound effects and negative environmental impact of the construction and maintenance of complex digital infrastructures. Additionally, the environmental benefits of decreasing consumption of one-time usage goods may be outweighed by the environmental costs of the production of ICTs and the increasing use of digital technologies.