Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time, for society and for the economy. Switzerland ratified the Paris Climate Change Accord and has pledged to become climate neutral by 2050. This means that we need to consider the effect of future ICT infrastructures, such as 5G mobile networks, on Switzerland’s greenhouse gas emissions.
A study jointly commissioned by Swisscom and swisscleantech reveals the impact powerful mobile networks can have on climate protection. A research team from the University of Zurich and Empa investigated the energy and material flows for the construction and operation of the networks and compared 4G and 5G technologies.
The team also examined the climate impact of a range of 5G-enabled applications. The research concluded that each of these use cases, from flexible working and smart-grid technology to precision crop management, offers huge potential for energy efficiency and climate protection.
Flexible working. This reduces business travel and commuting due to more efficient virtual collaboration.
The use of smart grids within the power network. These automate and optimise network operation and increase the proportion of renewable energy in our energy supply system.
Precision crop management. This can reduce the use of agricultural products such as fertilisers and increase productivity in livestock farming
According to the study’s authors, it is possible to significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 through the targeted use of the 5G network for those applications that demonstrate considerable potential to reduce greenhouse gases.
Two issues threaten to get in the way of this potential curb in greenhouse gas emissions.
In order to harness 5G technology to protect the climate, action is required in two areas.
The full study has been published in English on the University of Zurich website: https://www.ifi.uzh.ch/en/isr/news/news/5G-study-published.html
Mobile communications and the environment
Alte Tiefenaustrasse 6
Postfach, CH-3050 Bern