Study Says ‘Internet of Things’ Can Cut Carbon 7 Billion Tons by 2020

Carbon War Room

Machine to machine (M2M) communication – whereby sensors and networks allow all the parts of a physical system to communicate directly with each other – will radically change the way we work, live and travel. M2M will allow us to do more with less, but only if the industry can overcome current market barriers, according to an AT&T-sponsored report by Carbon War Room.

The potential for M2M technologies to drastically change the way we do business, streamline operations and curb our environmental impacts is evident, but there are significant market barriers that must be addressed to realize the full scalability of these technologies.

“We’ve seen the great potential in this technology and made aggressive investments to capitalize on that potential,” said John Schulz, director of sustainability at AT&T. “We pursued this work with Carbon War Room to tap into their expertise to understand the relationship between this revenue opportunity and potential environmental benefits. This study looks into ways that we can scale that expected huge adoption curve to achieve the benefits faster.”

In the report, Carbon War Room proposes strategies for M2M technologies industry to transform key sectors and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 9 billion tons. It also identifies the challenges that threaten the industry from reaching its full potential, and offers solutions for overcoming them.

The report addresses opportunities and issues in four key sectors:

  • Energy: M2M could save over 2.0 Gt of C02-equivalent by 2020 in the energy sector by facilitating the adoption of ‘smart grid’ technologies for users large and small, including smart meters and demand-response systems. M2M can also improve the efficiency of energy production and transmission, and can further reduce emissions by facilitating the switch to renewables.
  • Transportation: M2M could save nearly 1.9 Gt of C02-equivalent by 2020 in the transportation sector by optimizing routes of planes, trains, trucks and ships to ensure that people and goods are moved as efficiently as possible.
  • The built environment: M2M could save 1.6 Gt of Co2-equivalent by 2020 from the built environment sector by increasing the energy efficiency of building systems, including heating, cooling and ventilation, lighting,electronics and appliances, and security systems.
  • Agriculture: M2M could save another 1.6 Gt of Co2-equivalent by 2020 in the agriculture sector by reducing deforestation, managing livestock, and increasing the efficiency of planting, seeding, harvesting, fertilizer application and water use, allowing more food to be grown with fewer resources and saving money for farmers.

“We aim to identify how major telecommunications companies and others within the ‘M2M Value Chain’ can work both independently and collaboratively to accelerate the deployment of M2M technologies,” said Hilary McMahon, director of research, Carbon War Room. “Our conclusion is that the industry itself can create the necessary conditions for realizing the great potential for growth and reductions in GHG emissions projected by industry analysts.”

Read the full report, “Machine to Machine Technologies: Unlocking the Potential of a $1 Trillion Industry.”

Carbon War Room will convene global experts to further explore ways to scale M2M at the Creating Climate Wealth Workshop in Singapore, May 13-14 2013 with its working partner THNK. For more about the workshop visit

Watch the video below to learn more about the Carbon War Room and its efforts.

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