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Greenhouse gas emissions and operational electricity use in the ICT and entertainment & media sectors
School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Centres, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Centres, Centre for Sustainable Communications, CESC.
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban Planning and Environment, Environmental Strategies. School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Centres, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Centres, Centre for Sustainable Communications, CESC.
School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Centres, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Centres, Centre for Sustainable Communications, CESC.
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban Planning and Environment, Environmental Strategies. School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Centres, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Centres, Centre for Sustainable Communications, CESC.
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2010 (English)In: Journal of Industrial Ecology, ISSN 1088-1980, E-ISSN 1530-9290, Vol. 14, no 5, 770-790 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The positive and negative environmental impacts of information and communication technology (ICT) are widely debated. This study assesses the electricity use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to the ICT and entertainment & media (E&M) sectors at sector level, including end users, and thus complements information on the product level. GHGs are studied in a life cycle perspective, but for electricity use, only the operational use is considered. The study also considers which product groups or processes are major contributors. Using available data and extrapolating existing figures to the global scale for 2007 reveals that the ICT sector produced 1.3% of global GHG emissions in 2007 and the E&M sector 1.7%. The corresponding figures for global electricity use were 3.9% and 3.2%, respectively. The results indicate that for the ICT sector, operation leads to more GHG emissions than manufacture, although impacts from the manufacture of some products are significant. For the E&M sector, operation of TVs and production of printed media are the main reasons for overall GHG emissions. TVs as well as printed media, with the estimations made here, led to more GHG emissions on a global level in 2007 than PCs (manufacture and operation). A sector study of this type provides information on a macro scale, a perspective easily lost when considering, for example, the product-related results of life cycle assessments. The macro scale is essential to capture changes in total consumption and use. However, the potential of the ICT sector to help decrease environmental impacts from other sectors was not included in the assessment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 14, no 5, 770-790 p.
Keyword [en]
climate change, industrial ecology, information and communication technology (ICT), life cycle assessment (LCA), technology and environment, telecommunications
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-12501DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-9290.2010.00278.xISI: 000283692700009Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-78049469919OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-12501DiVA: diva2:315388
Projects
Development of sustainability assessment tools for ICT
Note
QC 20100610. Uppdaterad från submitted till published (20101208).Available from: 2010-04-29 Created: 2010-04-29 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Assessment of media and communication from a sustainability perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Assessment of media and communication from a sustainability perspective
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis aims to assess potential environmental impacts of media and communication and to contribute to the development of methods for sustainability assessment. Although the main focus is on printed and electronic media products and environmental impacts, a broader sector analysis is also included and social aspects are discussed. The thesis provides a review of different environmental assessment tools in order to better understand their relationships and the appropriateness of different tools in different situations. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is used to assess printed and electronic versions of newspapers, books and invoices. Results of the screening LCAs of newspapers and books indicate that when comparing printed and electronic versions there are benefits and drawbacks for both. For news and books read on e-reading devices with energy efficient e-ink screens, the main environmental impacts in the studies stemmed from the production of the device and partly from disposal, with the latter having the potential to reduce some environmental impacts through recycling of materials. However, there are data gaps regarding the production of the e-reading devices, most notably for the e-ink screen and the waste management of obsolete e-reading devices. Existing data on internet energy use are uncertain. The potential impacts from a hypothetical total change from paper invoices to electronic invoices in Sweden were assessed through a screening consequential LCA regarding greenhouse gas emissions and cumulative energy demand. The results indicate that emissions and energy demand could decrease as a result of a change. The screening LCAs performed indicate that users’ practices could substantially influence the environmental impacts. Key factors which can influence results and comparisons of printed and electronic media products are total use of electronic devices, total use of printed media, amount and type of paper, energy use of electronic devices, potential printing of electronic media, electricity mix, and the system boundaries set for the assessments.

To get a wider perspective, a sector study of the ICT sector and media sector concerning global greenhouse gas emissions and operational electricity use was performed. It was estimated that the contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions in 2007 was roughly 1-2 % for each sector. To assess media and communication products from a sustainability perspective, social aspects should also be covered. The author participated in an international project group on social aspects and LCA, one outcome from which was guidelines for social LCA (S-LCA). In addition to providing guidance for S-LCA, another important role of the guidelines is to facilitate discussions, criticism and proposals for improvement and development of the methodology being developed.

The LCA and sector studies in this thesis are limited to direct and to some extent indirect environmental impacts. Further studies of the environmental impacts of more long-term changes in practices and potential structural changes, as well as potential social impacts, could provide important additional insights. This could increase the possibility of facilitating sustainable practices related to ICT and media.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2010. 74 p.
Series
Trita-SOM , ISSN 1653-6126 ; 2010-05
Keyword
electronic media, e-reading device, print media, newspaper, book, invoice, information and communication technology (ICT), environmental assessment, life cycle assessment (LCA), social life cycle assessment (S-LCA), sector analysis
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Other Environmental Engineering Natural Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-12502 (URN)978-91-7415-636-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-05-27, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH, Stockholm, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20100610Available from: 2010-05-03 Created: 2010-04-29 Last updated: 2010-06-10Bibliographically approved

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Malmodin, JensMoberg, ÅsaLundén, DagFinnveden, GöranLövehagen, Nina
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