The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) believes that IT could be the key to slashing harmful CO2 emissions and stemming climate change.
Two reports independently authored by the WWF and various academic experts, and funded with the help of HP and Microsoft, claim that relatively simple IT measures implemented on a global scale could help to cut emissions by at least half of the current US total for annual emissions by 2050.
The first report, entitled Virtual Meetings and Climate Innovation in the 21st Century (PDF), concludes that employee travel accounts for at least 50 per cent of non-manufacturing firms' total carbon footprint, which could be dramatically reduced through virtual meetings.
"Creating a global network of more than 4,000 high-quality videoconferencing studios in cities around the world would help build a new infrastructure for the 21st century, and would cost less than one and a half aeroplanes," said Dennis Pamlin, a WWF policy advisor and co-author of the report.
The second report, entitled From Workplace to Anyplace (PDF), also highlights the potential of IT to allow people to work or collaborate remotely, likewise cutting carbon emissions incurred by commuting or air travel.
The WWF believes that about one billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions could be avoided by 2030 if more people turned to teleworking. The amount is the same as the current combined annual carbon emission rate of the UK and Italy.
But Pamlin noted that, although IT could do much to reduce greenhouse gases, the world still needs a "strong global climate policy to ensure these solutions are implemented at the speed and scale necessary to make a difference".
"We must start to walk in the right direction now, before it's too late," he added.
The WWF also pointed out that, although developed countries have the most potential to cut emissions via teleworking in the short term, developing nations would deliver the bulk of the reductions in the long term.
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