Mobile working saves more carbon than it emits, research suggests

The use of mobile working may save as much as 180 million tonnes in carbon emissions a year, a new report has suggested.

A study carried out by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) for the Carbon Trust found that the reduction in carbon emissions from mobile technology is around five-times greater than the cumulative carbon footprint of operating the mobile networks.

It added this number could grow by three times by the end of the decade.

The report looked at 60 carbon-saving mechanisms across ten categories, evaluating various uses of mobile tech, including smartphones, machine-to-machine (M2M) and internet of things (IoT) connections.

The report polled 4,000 smartphone users in Mexico, Spain, South Korea, the UK and the US, and found smartphones were becoming a particularly important part of efforts to reduce their personal carbon footprint.

GeSI chairman Luis Neves said: “We are just at the beginning of an accelerating adoption curve, where businesses, governments and society recognise the wealth of possibilities offered by the technology to do things differently.

“This report shows that mobile is already making a real difference across the global economy, helping us to shape a more sustainable world.”

In terms of mobile technology, the biggest savings were made due to subsequent cuts in energy and fuel usage, with the operation of buildings and transport seeing a marked increase in efficiency.

The report also uncovered several areas for further potential carbon savings, including agriculture, where some farmers are deploying IoT networks to streamline their working practices in order to save water and use less fertiliser.