Increased access to broadband vital to stimulating new, sustainable economic growth

June 29, 2011 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Increased access to broadband vital to stimulating new, sustainable economic growth
The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) outlines an opportunity to forge sustainable economic growth in a new paper, Building a 21st century communications economy. While global oil demand is projected to grow by a fifth by 2030 (1) (equivalent to using the entire U.S. strategic oil reserves in a month (2)), this new paper presents an alternative; creating a low carbon, low-environmental impact economy through greater investment in advanced communication networks.

Paul Dickinson, executive chairman of CDP, explains, "We are at a historic moment where nations will either enter into a contest for finite resources, where everyone is guaranteed to lose, or we can enter into a golden age of economic growth, without the serious threat of climate change, built on the enormous potential of communications. The 19th century saw massive advances in agriculture and the 20th century was defined by manufacturing. We have the opportunity to define economic growth in the 21st century by advanced communication networks where economic opportunity is not limited by time, distance, or geography.

"Economic value will increasingly reside in bits and bytes (3), rather than molecules and atoms of products and commodities, in effect, decoupling greenhouse gas emissions from growth."

With increased competition for natural resources, the most competitive economies of tomorrow will be those that revolutionize the way we live and work, generating increased value using fewer resources. Investment in broadband – expanding access to next generation technology to communities across the U.S. and across the globe – has the potential to stimulate job creation and increase access to goods and services including healthcare and education whilst reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This is particularly true for rural communities and areas that are currently not served or underserved by broadband access.

CDP analysis shows that the average Information Communications Technology (ICT) company generates over $4,000 of net income per company for every metric ton of CO2 equivalent emitted. This is double that of the Consumer Staples(4) sector and seven times that of the Materials sector (5), showing it's a sector that is well positioned to continue to grow in a low carbon, resource efficient economy. (6)

However, the ICT sector's greatest impact is likely to be through enabling companies across sectors to drive energy efficiencies and transform working practices, thereby increasing their net income per metric ton of carbon ratio. The Smart 2020 report (7)

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