More information on the environmental effects of digitisation
Our aim is to increase knowledge and understanding of the positive and negative environmental effects of digitisation.
What is it about?
Digitisation is expected to play a significant role in the transition to a circular economy and in the reduction of emissions. Digitisation can indeed help in the transition to a circular economy, especially in certain sectors such as energy, construction, agriculture, retail business, industry, logistics, banking and transport.
However, the progress of digitisation and the increase in the use of data cannot happen without natural resources such as energy or materials. Digital applications and the transfer and processing of data always require physical devices and energy.
Digitisation affects all sectors of society. Forming an overall picture of digitisation and an understanding of the system-level impacts on the environment is challenging. There are many open questions: What kind of data do those operating in the field report and to whom? What kind of information and data would be required to form a comprehensive picture? What kind of digital solutions promote the transition to a circular economy? How can we take the development in the desired direction together?
What do we do?
There is currently not very much publicly available information on the environmental impacts of digitisation. The information is also fragmented and partly conflicting.
Our aim is to increase knowledge and understanding of the positive and negative environmental effects of digitisation. We offer information and tools that support decision-making and work in co-operation with companies, authorities and other stakeholders in the field.
Our intention is to examine the positive and negative environmental effects of digitisation, piece by piece. First we will find answers to the questions that help form an overall picture.
- In the first stage, in spring 2020, a study was conducted to determine what information is available on the electricity and energy consumption of the ICT sector in Finland and Europe. The study was financed by Sitra and implemented by ETLA Economic Research and Aalto University.
- In autumn 2020, we will look at the consumption of materials and especially at the amount of natural resources required by increasing digitisation.
- Future studies and measures will be planned on the basis of the findings from the first two studies.
Who is taking part?
We are conducting a dialogue with central government and companies and organisations in the sector.
Lotta Toivonen, a circular economy specialist at Sitra, is a member of the Ministry of Transport and Communications’ working group preparing the national climate and environmental strategy for the ICT sector.
In spring 2020, a study was conducted to determine what information is available on the electricity and energy consumption of the ICT sector in Finland and Europe. The study was financed by Sitra and implemented by ETLA Economic Research and Aalto University.
Where are we at?
Sitra’s work to determine the environmental effects of digitisation began in spring 2020. The study of the electricity and energy consumption of the ICT sector in Finland was published in June 2020. The work will continue until 2022.
How can we help you?