Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Barroso in CeBIT – but they could not connect me from India

Barroso followed in the footsteps of Viviane Reding and her presentation at EBS (see earlier blog) when he spoke at CeBIT. It is great to see this high-level interest where ICT slowly is beginning to be seen as part of the core strategy ahead towards a low-carbon sustainable society. Hopefully people will see that things like CCS is marginal in comparison and that the focus should be on integrated system solutions that support innovation and a new generation of companies.

An "interesting" detail is that I was asked to participate at CeBIT to discuss sustainability and ICT. I asked if I could participate from India (where I am right now), but that was not possible. If one of the leading ICT events on the planet can not arrange a video link to discuss the sustainable use of ICT we still have a long way to go. Let's hope this is the last year that the organizers fail to provide the possibility to link India with Europe...

Below is the part of Barroso’s speech covering ICT and climate, the full speech is available here. (1/4 of the full speech was ICT and climate)


José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
ICT Industry has a Major Role to Play in the European Economy of the 21st Century
CeBIT Trade Fair
Hannover, 3 March 2008


I already briefly mentioned the climate and sustainability challenge, and here too, we want Europe to lead in addressing this challenge, not least through the use of ICT.

The energy and climate policy we are proposing will require efforts, but will imply huge opportunities too, for all sectors. European business, and the ICT sector in particular, will be key partners in the new environment that will emerge.

Just as ICT has contributed to welfare and growth, it also has a major role to play in greening the European economy, in improving energy efficiency and lowering emissions.

Europe must more than double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency, for example. There is tremendous untapped potential in using ICT for adding intelligence to components, products, equipment and services, and for addressing barriers and market failures.

First, ICT can substitute for physical products by using online services, moving business to the internet and adopting new ways of working, like video-conferencing.

Second, the ICT sector itself must clean up its own act. The carbon footprint of the ICT sector is small but growing. I believe the ICT industries are ready to set a good example, and I am encouraged by recent developments.

But the real gains will come from ICT as an enabler to improve energy efficiency across the economy. ICT matters for energy reduction, especially in transport and the energy intensive sectors.

In the energy generation, distribution and storage industry, overall potential savings of up to 40% are considered possible.

ICT’s ability to organize and innovate is a key factor. We see whole cities like Gothenburg in Sweden moving their local electricity grid towards a smart "Internet of Energy", with self-organizing online sensors and controls which monitor and optimize the energy use. Needless to say, these developments also need to be backed up by our regulation reforms in energy and telecom.

The Commission itself is exploring voluntary agreements with industry, and we are supporting research and large-scale pilot projects on energy efficient public buildings. And the new European Institute of Innovation and Technology will also be heavily involved in this area.

A Commission Communication on Energy Efficiency through ICTs is under way. It will spell out in more detail the messages I am giving here today.

Europe needs all stakeholders to sign up to the goal of better energy efficiency to achieve sustainable growth. With smart use of smart technologies, we can all be winners in the transition to an energy-efficient, sustainable knowledge based society.

So it is also your turn to seize these opportunities and to participate in innovation and research to tackle climate change.

The ICT sector is crucial to the huge forward-looking project we are embarking upon with our climate policy. This will be a driving force for many decades. It will open up horizons we cannot even imagine at this stage. I urge you to join us in this venture.