The critical importance of this effort cannot be understated – and was in fact stated in no uncertain terms in an opening presentation by Bill St. Arnaud
, former CANARIE chief research officer and now principal in St-Arnaud & Walker Associates. According to St. Arnaud, we are past the point of no return on climate change: since the primary contributor to global temperature increase is energy generation, to keep increases stable at 2 degrees F, we would need to install the equivalent of one new nuclear generating plant (or other alternative emissions free generation) every day for the next 50 years. St. Arnaud’s prognosis is drawn from research published by climate scientists such as Ken Caldiera and Roger Pielke Jr. (see Climate Fix
), that was supported by recent findings from the International Energy Agency, which generated the original 2 degree 450 Scenario. According to the IEA, global CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel combustion reached a record high of 31.6 gigatonnes in 2011 (an increase of 3.2% over 2010 numbers)
, just one gigatonne short of the 32.6 we need by 2017 to have a 50% chance of limiting the increase in the average global temperature to 2°C.
In this situation, efforts to mitigate carbon impact through conservation activities become as meaningless as the certainty of server droughts and other climate disruption – and the only hope, a radical shift to alternative energy sources. In St. Arnaud’s view, work towards this goal is a realistic focus for ICT, as has been demonstrated in projects such as GreenStar’s carbon neutral networking
– and that is developing in the distributed green cloud that HP/AMD are building at Clarkson University in New York state and in a similar project at Rutgers U. ITC’s role in climate monitoring, and country adaptation to change that scientists now apparently view as foregone conclusion were the subjects of two comprehensive sessions on day three of the symposium.
Other presenters at the ITU conference offered more confidence in the power of mitigation. Daniel Gagné, director, corporate responsibility and environment at Bell Canada, for example, outlined a number of Bell initiatives, including the goal to reduce energy consumption at Bell and in network operations by 50% by 2020 (from a 2003 baseline) through IT solutions for telework and teleconference, dematerialization through digitization (ex. ebilling), logistics management through telematics, and cloud/virtualization and new facilities technologies in the data centre (a new Bell facility just won an Uptime Institute Green Enterprise IT award for facilities design