EurActiv - Letters to the Editor

Sir,

Regarding ‘EU to declare war on business trips‘:

On behalf of Europe’s e-communications providers, I would like to hail the European Commission for its plan to propose measures that will encourage the use of ICT to reduce CO2 emissions.

No one can deny that telecoms services and products encourage citizens to travel less and use fewer resources. Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding’s proposal to replace business travel with video conferencing is not new. Nor is the concept of encouraging employees to telework. In fact, European Commission figures estimate that 6% of European workers telework for at least 10% of their working time. Jointly with the WWF, ETNO issued a roadmap back in 2005 which clearly indicated that a more systematic use of services such as video-conferencing could lead to savings of about 50 millions tons of CO2 emissions a year.

But what is new about the upcoming proposal is the notion that our European decision-makers are finally ready, it seems, to actively encourage reliance on technology.

Ideally the notion will not stop at encouragement. We are hopeful that the Commission will go one step further and put real incentives in place to change cultures, habits and attitudes.

Telecommunications network operators are already calling on vertical sectors and individuals to seize the potential of today’s technology and make it an integral part of their lives to reduce CO2 emissions. The European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) is launching a campaign called ‘Making it possible’ to highlight our members’ environmental efforts, sustainable innovation, and ecologically-conscious product and service development.

EU policymakers could play their part by encouraging all sectors of the economy to embrace ICT solutions, for instance by creating real incentives for companies to embrace broadband-based services in lieu of material-reliant options. EU policymakers also need to put in place the appropriate conditions for telecoms operators to deploy the new high speed networks which are essential for Europe to benefit from these new services.

Telecoms-based innovation will help Europe be globally competitive, as well as meet emission reduction goals. Both will create a better future. Technologies exist; others are just around the corner.

Let’s hope that the EU will provide real incentives to drive demand for sustainable technologies.

Michael Bartholomew

ETNO Director

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