David Bol / Assistant professor

UCLouvain / Electronic circuits and systems

The translation of this testimony was generated automatically by a translation program. Thanks for your understanding.

Today, information and communication technologies (ICT) generate a few percent’s of the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, according to a recent scientific report (The Shift Project), the GHG emissions of ICT are growing at a steady pace of 9% per year, owing to the ever-expanding use of the Internet. In a world, where we need to drastically reduce our carbon footprint, the ICT might end up being the dominant source of GHG emissions by 2050.
These emissions come from two major sources: the manufacture of electronic products such as smartphones, smart TVs and gadgets and the electrical power consumption of the Internet infrastructure based on datacenters and basestations.
With this respect, I am fighting against 1) the obsolescence of electronic products and 2) the waste of Internet data traffic. At the personal level, this translates into attempts (sometimes successful, sometimes unsuccessful) to repair broken electronic goods instead of buying new ones and investment in mid-range yet compact electronic products (instead of entry-level ones) that will be able to keep up with software updates. To avoid wasting data, we avoid TV at home, adapt the resolution of the video to the screen size (never use 4K UHD), use local music storage instead of streaming and intentionally select the cellular phone plan with the lowest data volume.
When discussing this with people, I realize how unaware people are from the impact of their use of the Internet. There are thus two major changes to undertake. We first have to invest in the education of the young generation about this impact, as the teenagers are big data consumers due to social network videos. Second, we have to enforce long lifetime and reparability of electronic goods by the manufacturers, and make this information clearly available to the consumers with e.g. durability and reparability labels (A/B/C/D/E) in addition to the power consumption label.

Originally posted 2018-05-12 12:15:45.

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