A group of the world's largest technology companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook owner Meta, have joined forces for sustainable reason with the Carbon Trust to decarbonize internet-connected devices like phones, speakers, and laptops, the climate consultancy announced today.
A group of tech titans, led by the Carbon Trust, has formed a secretariat to develop a new specification for measuring, accounting for, and decarbonizing the emissions associated with internet-connected devices when they are used by customers.
According to data from the Electronic Devices and Networks Annex, connected devices, which include any device that can connect to another or to a network via the Internet, consumed 500 TWh of energy in 2020, which is equivalent to France's annual electricity consumption.
The Carbon Trust stated that as the number of these devices has increased globally, driving demand for digital data, reducing their energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions has become a key focus for the technology industry.
According to data from the Carbon Trust and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative, the "use phase" of a device - the time it is used by a consumer - accounts for up to 85 percent of its total lifecycle carbon footprint.
Many of these devices can remotely report energy consumption, which according to the Carbon Trust has the potential to "significantly" improve the accuracy of energy consumption estimates.
The tech titans' joint commitment underscores the industry's desire to better understand and account for these emissions in a standardized manner, according to the statement.
Hugh Jones, managing director of the Carbon Trust, stated, "The connected devices industry is innovative, cutting-edge, and ambitious." "It is critical to achieving net zero progress." This product-level approach will provide an open, trusted, and unified methodology for measuring device data, assisting the sector in reducing use-phase emissions. We are thrilled to be at the vanguard of this cross-industry collaboration."
The newly formed group stated that its goals are to develop a clear framework for reporting energy efficiency gains, establish rules to better match electricity consumption with renewable energy generation, and use technology to optimize the energy use of connected consumer devices
According to the Carbon Trust, by implementing energy efficiency best practices and deploying a new smart energy management feature, a significant portion of the estimated collective 500 TWh of electricity consumption from connected devices could be reduced, and additional renewable electricity capacity could be created. Global Society will then be able to track the impact of these measures, resulting in more effective decarbonisation of consumer technology over time, according to the report.
The Carbon Trust is encouraging more device manufacturers and retailers interested in participating in the methodology to come forward to achieve certain Sustainable Development Goals.
It is expected that the work will be completed in 2023, at which point the specification developed by the secretariat will be publicly available to support the industry's transition to net zero.
The announcement was welcomed by Maiken Mller-Hansen, Amazon's director of energy and sustainability for devices and services.
"Amazon has long been committed to reducing its carbon footprint, and this secretariat allows our industry to better measure and work to decarbonize the device usage phase," she said. "We look forward to working with both the Carbon Trust and the founding members, and we hope that more companies will join us in this project."
The decarbonization of technical end devices is a step we can definitely take with our current progress and more sustainable alternatives. By the world's largest tech companies publicly joining forces to move to greener alternatives, this sets an example for all.