Skip Navigation

Investment in broadband to drive sustainable economic growth

Investment in broadband to drive sustainable economic growth

Investment in broadband to drive sustainable economic growth

Investment in advanced communications networks will define economic growth in the future and will provide a sustainable alternative to growth based on finite resources, a new paper from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) claims.

Building a 21st century communications economy’ argues the case for creating a low carbon, low-environmental impact economy through greater investment in broadband.

“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,” said Paul Dickinson, executive chairman of the CDP.

“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, rather than molecules and atoms of products and commodities, in effect, decoupling greenhouse gas emissions from growth.”

The report claims that investment in broadband, particularly in rural communities, has the potential to stimulate job creation and increase access to goods and services including healthcare and education while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the CDP, its analysis shows that the average ICT company generates over US$4,000 of net income per company for every metric ton of CO2 equivalent emitted. This is double that of the consumer staples sector and seven times that of the materials sector. This, says the CDP, demonstrates that the ICT sector is well positioned to continue to grow in a low carbon, resource efficient economy. 

It adds, however, that 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.

It quotes the Smart 2020 report, which showed that ICT could help reduce emissions by an estimated 13 to 22pc from US business and see gross energy and fuel savings of US$140bn to US$240bn.

To realise the potential greenhouse gas savings, CDP says access to broadband is critical – if devices are not reliably connected to the network they will not be adopted. It notes that 14 million people in the US currently lack access to high speed internet.

“The world as we know it is changing, to a world that is cleaner, more inclusive and unconstrained by where you live,” said Dickenson. “The key to unlocking the potential of all these technologies is an efficient and reliable communications network. We have an opportunity to grow our economy with less environmental impact, and fundamentally transform the way we live, work and play.”