Our SMART 2020 report showed that the ICT sector can save 15% of global emissions in 2020, mainly through enabling energy efficiency in sectors like transport, energy, industry and buildings.


Today, 5 billion people have mobile phones. We connect to the internet to share information, work, socialise and shop. And not only will people become more connected, but 'things' will too; there could be 50 billion machine-to-machine connections in 2020. This information will make climate change visible. It will help us monitor our impacts and emissions. It will helps us optimize systems in all sectors for energy and resource efficiency.

This means that information and Communications Technologies – ICTs – are key enablers of the Clean Revolution. But the ICT sector can’t work alone to achieve this opportunity, and there is a danger that the 15% opportunity will not be realized.

What we do

We demonstrate that the opportunity is happening already. The Information Marketplaces report shows how technology can provide value for city sustainability today and in the near future. Faster, Smarter, Greener: The state of city innovation on climate change and other urban challenges, shows that 50 cities are actively seeking solutions to their top reported challenges related to environment, economy, mobility and urban services. 

We work on overcoming barriers to the opportunity. We’ve been working with companies like Google, BT and Cisco to make the case for smart action, advocate for access to energy information, and demonstrate innovation in cities. Our partners in delivering our work include social enterprises Living Labs Global and CityMart, the city association Metropolis, the UK Technology Strategy Board, the Digital Energy and Sustainability Solutions Campaign (DESSC), the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and the UN Foundation.

  • Achievements

    The clean revolution will only be possible when each citizen is opening up new opportunities to live better using less energy and resources. Information and Communications technologies (ICT) are unlocking the means for this opportunity to become reality: access to these technologies allows consumers, companies and governments take smarter decisions, and to make our buildings, transport systems and infrastructure more efficient.

    Our activities have focused on:

    1. Demonstrating the opportunity:

    • In 2008, The Climate Group on behalf of the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) published the SMART 2020 report, with analysis by McKinsey. It showed that 15% of emissions savings would be possible in 2020, with a value of over EUR 600 billion in energy savings. The SMART 2020 report has become the definitive work on how ICT can be applied to climate change mitigation. Engagement with business and government leaders, and subsequent reports by The Climate Group and our partners, have addressed the ICT opportunities in the US, China, India, Australia and Europe. 

    2. Policy

    • In November 2009 the GSMA, with support of The Climate Group, published Mobile’s Green Manifesto which set out how the mobile industry planned to lower its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per connection. In June 2012, the GSMA updated the Manifesto with detailed benchmarking of the sector’s progress toward its goal of reducing total global GHG emissions per connection by 40% by 2020. This has led to hundreds of mobile operators voluntarily benchmarking their energy consumption to find energy efficiency opportunities.
    • From 2009-2012, Google and The Climate Group have worked with a group of companies including our member HP to open up access to energy information. In 2010, we sent a letter to President Obama to encourage his administration to set a goal to make energy information available for consumers— the first step towards better management of energy use. In June 2011, the White House announced it would encourage utilities to provide machine-readable information to all citizens as soon as possible, backed by investment in energy education. In 2012, a letter welcoming the Green Button initiative was sent to the President signed by 25 of the original companies who called for energy information access.
    • Our ICTs for Sustainable Energy Partnership (ISEP) supports policies needed to ensure ICT meets UN Sustainable Energy for all goals of doubling energy efficiency and renewables, with initiatives running in Europe and India.

    3. Accelerating solutions deployment in cities and regions:

    Over 50% of the world's population already lives in urban centers. It is in cities are where over 70% of emissions are created from the transportation systems, buildings and infrastructures that provide citizens with services. The application of ‘smart solutions’ requires that complex systems become more efficient, and therefore that city leaders are leading innovators for low carbon solutions.

    • In June 2010 we formally announced the incorporation of the Connected Urban Development (CUD) Alliance of cities (founded by Cisco Systems in partnership with cities Amsterdam, Seoul, San Francisco, Madrid, Lisbon, Hamburg and Birmingham) into our SMART 2020 programme. We embarked on a process for ensuring we could continue to support cities in demonstrating ICT-enabled solutions to climate change. 
    • in 2011, Alstom, IBM, Cisco, Arup, (others) met in a precinct in Adelaide to discuss ambitious development, as part of our work on Integrating solutions in precincts (Climate Smart Precincts Australia). We worked with our state government partners to identify precincts for development, and bring climate and ‘smart’ solutions expertise to inform site development. The Climate Smart Precincts report in 2010 identified principles for ‘climate smart’ development, and government is now taking on the recommendations for how to better align procurement with integrated solutions that have demonstrably larger emissions savings
    • The China Redesign program launched in March 2011, and together with the SMART 2020 program is bringing ICT expertise into city development strategy and projects that deliver to China’s 5 Year Plan’s low carbon objectives.
    • On November 3, 2011, our work to test ICT-enabled solutions in cities entered the next phase following the Connected Urban Development partnership. We announced 21 city challenges – at least half directly related to climate change (in areas such as transport, energy, city monitoring) in partnership with Living Labs Global Award. To win the Award, international technology and service solution providers competed to win the chance to pilot their solutions in these cities, putting their effectiveness to the test. 
    • See our blog to learn more about the 2012 winners.
    • On December 1, 2011, we published the Information Marketplaces report in partnership with Accenture, Arup and Horizon (University of Nottingham), that investigates the economics of smart cities, and how technology can be used in cities to meet the growing challenges of expanding urbanization.
    • In early 2012, the Agile Cities partnership with social enterprises Living Labs Global and CityMart, city association Metropolis and UK Technology Strategy board was announced. This partnership aims to improve transparency of the city services market opportunity, enable innovation, and ideally shorten the time – and money – it requires to deploy sustainability solutions in cities. As part of the partnership, we surveyed 50 cities on their challenges and approaches to innovation.
    • Our 2013 Faster, Smarter, Greener: The state of city innovation on climate change and other urban challenges report demonstrates that cities top reported challenges relate to the environment, and to solve these challenges, they will need to be ‘agile’ in bringing new ideas and technologies to pilot and commercial scale. 
    • At the Living Labs Global Award 2013 event, a climate change judging panel awarded the first Low Carbon Leader award to Lowfoot,  the company which out of the 23 cities awarding solutions, had the most potential to transform low carbon lifestyles.
  • AGILE Cities Partnership

    Agile Cities is an initiative connecting cities, innovation leaders in business and society and civic organisations to promote an open standard for a more effective marketplace among cities. Our aim is to provide cities the tools to identify their needs, communicate their challenges, discover solutions and explore impact through piloting and other evaluation methods in an accelerated process to promote uptake of high-impact, proven innovations.

    A partnership between The Climate Group and social enterprises Living Labs Global and, city association Metropolis and the UK’s Technology Strategy Board will support cities in answering these questions.

    Cities and their citizens will have an overall gain by delivering better services, at lower cost and understanding the impact of technologies on accessibility, climate change and other policy objectives through the use of shared evaluation methodologies, piloting, and data and experiences collected in other markets.

    Marketing costs for businesses are expected to fall by up to 90% which could be carried over into more competitive solution pricing.

    Read more on the partnership website.

    A participating city survey resulted in the 2013 Faster, Smarter, Greener: The state of city innovation on climate change and other urban challenges report, which demonstrates that cities top reported challenges relate to the environment, and to solve these challenges, they will need to be ‘agile’ in bringing new ideas and technologies to pilot and commercial scale.

  • ICTs for Sustainable Energy Partnership

    ICT-enabled solutions (e.g., intelligent transportation, smart buildings, smart logistics, telework and telepresence) have already contributed to 10x efficiency in the US economy historically, and have even greater future potential to save 15% of global emissions in 2020, according to research by The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, The Climate Group and others. However, market and other barriers stand in the way of meeting this potential and the ICT industry, acting alone, cannot remove these barriers. The ISEP will create both a global platform and country-specific projects through which the ISEP will attack these barriers.

    With support from the U.S. government, the ISEP partnership will focus on realizing the ICT industry’s important further potential and its important role in achieving the goals of the UN’s SE4All initiative:

    • doubling energy efficiency, 
    • doubling the share of renewable energy resources, and 
    • ensuring universal access to energy.

    ISEP is a partnership between The Climate Group (which will provide the secretariat), The Digital Energy & Sustainability Solutions Campaign (DESSC), the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and the UN Foundation announce a partnership commitment in support of the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative, entitled the “ICTs for Sustainable Energy Partnership” (ISEP).

    Read about the ISEP partnership launch at Rio+20 Earth Summit in June, 2012 or or go to the ISEP website for further updates.

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