Can deployment of technology to reduce carbon in organisations make economic sense in the short term?

There have been a lot of discussions around how technology can intervene in offsetting carbon in industries in India. We chanced upon this wonderful report prepared by the Digital Energy Solutions Consortium India (DESC India) and CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development, titled, ICT’s Contribution to India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change in Dec 2010.

In June 2008, the Prime Minister had released the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), outlining the nation’s strategy to manage greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
India has since then, announced a goal of reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP by 20-25% by the year 2020 compared to 2005. The Planning Commission is also in the process of defining a low-carbon growth map for the country. The DESC Report explores potential GHG reduction opportunities via ICT (Information & Communication Technology) solutions in the focus sectors of the three mitigation-related missions of NAPCC – National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE), National Mission on Sustainable Habitat (NMSH) and National Solar Mission (NSM).

Just the electricity saved by ICT adoption in the power sector can help electrify more than 14,000 villages with an average population of 2,000-3,000. Implementation of ICT measures in the paper sector in 2030 can reduce emissions by an amount equivalent to that sequestered by 3 million trees. Savings achieved via video-conferencing and tele-commuting with moderate ICT penetration can offset GHG emissions more than 70 times the current GHG emissions due to the annual air traffic between Delhi and Mumbai.


Carbon offset while also saving money for travel seems to be a logical way for organizations to offset carbon. Atmosfair has helped companies like Elektrolux and DHL in Germany to reduce their carbon through simple ICT implementation and consulting in their travel systems. The impact of the same in organizations that are more people intensive in India can be huge.

Becoming carbon neutral for companies in India is not just an interesting brand positioning to have. It also makes immense economic sense. The total cost of ICT usage in NMEEE mission sectors – considering moderate penetration of ICT solutions in 2020 and 2030 – is estimated at INR 49,700 crore and INR156,100 crore. These investments correspond to cost savings of around INR 7,300 crore p.a. and INR 29,200 crore p.a. respectively. Similarly, ICT technologies in Transport, Buildings and Solid Waste Management sectors can lead to cost savings of INR 26,300 crore in 2020 under the moderate scenario. This is approximately 0.5% of India’s GDP in financial year 2009-10!!

It’s a wonder that its even a discussion anymore.

Leave a comment