Will greenhouse gas regulations stop the tech sector from growing?

by Liam Britten | Research

Houston’s Rice University has released a report that says that government limits on carbon dioxide production could have a profound effect on producers of electronics.

Although devices like laptops, cell phones and gaming consoles don’t produce the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide when in our homes, their production generates a significant amount of it during production, owing to the large amount of electricity required by factories.

Governments worldwide are taking steps to limit greenhouse gas production, but the Rice report says that these limits will cripple further growth unless more efficient production methods are developed.

From the CBC:

"In the face of growing global concerns over greenhouse carbon emission, the key for the industry is finding new technologies that deliver more performance for each kilogram of CO2 emitted," said Rice computer scientist Krishna Palem, who directed the 18-month study into the pollution potential of the IT sector.

Without changing their factory processes, the global technology sector's productiveness will drop over the next 11 years compared to the amount of carbon dioxide the industry will generated, the report said.

Indeed, in 2009, technology industries produced $2.83 US of output for each kilogram of carbon dioxide produced. By 2020, the sector's productivity will fall by more than 50 per cent with only $1.06 of gadgets produced per kilogram of CO2.

Worse still, many governments in many countries are examining restrictions on the level of carbon dioxide emissions allowed into the atmosphere. By imposing pollution restrictions, these administrations would be effectively slamming the door of further IT growth, the researchers said.

"Based on those numbers, the industry is headed for a brick wall if limits are placed on emissions," Palem said.

It’s not good to hear that the industry is facing hard times, but the tech sector has as much of an obligation to environmental sustainability as any other part of our economy. The prospect of a ceiling on further growth shouldn’t let them off the hook from their responsibility to the planet’s future.

As governments adopt stronger measures to limit greenhouse gas production, expect more sectors of the economy to raise concerns like these. No business wants their profits hamstrung by bleeding-heart environmentalists, so they will fight these regulations in any way they can, and keeping everyone worried about a crippled economy is just another tactic.

Besides, this is the tech sector — shouldn’t further innovations to increase efficiency be right up their alley?

What do you think? Are further greenhouse gas limits going to damage the economy unacceptably, or should the tech sector just suck it up?

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Liam Britten

Liam Britten

Liam Britten is a writer and editor with a journalism background operating out of Vancouver. In addition to his work at Techvibes, he has been published in student publications across Canada, as well as local newspapers such as The MapleRidge-Pitt Meadows TIMES and The Langley Advance. An aficionado for the finer things in life — such as video games and sports — Liam is plugged into the tech... more

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