Building a low carbon economy with ICT

Client: Microsoft

Consultant: Imperial College Business School and Johns Hopkins University

Expertise: Economics

Our consultants shared their expertise in economics to help Microsoft explore how ICT can play an enabling role in low carbon economies to reduce CO2 emissions.


The Challenge

Microsoft wanted to explore how four main areas in society can be enhanced by information communication technologies (ICT). The areas are low carbon economy, e-health, education and government where expert knowledge was sought within each of these areas. Johns Hopkins University is co-ordinating the project across all four areas.


Dr Ian Mackenzie, Project Director, explains:

How Europe can move to a low-carbon economy is a critical question for citizens, companies and policymakers. We’re seeking to shed light not just on the potential impact that ICT can have on carbon but also the barriers to widespread adoption of ICT-enabled solutions and what firms and governments can do to overcome them.

Dr Ian Mackenzie
Project Director, Microsoft


The Solution

Microsoft turned to Imperial College Business School in regards to ICT’s role in low-carbon economies.


Dr Peter Thomond, Project Manager, explains why Microsoft chose to work with Imperial:

Understanding what is required for successful innovation and structuring complex business problems are our main areas of expertise. It’s fantastic to work with industry to apply this knowledge to tackle climate change. I feel passionately about the benefits of applied research – our work is academically rigorous and industrially relevant.

Dr Peter Thomond
Project Manager, Microsoft


The project began by identifying a wide range technologies, products and services with the potential to enable reduced CO2 emissions. The team then estimated their potential impact on emissions.

The second stage identified barriers to wide spread adoption for specific high potential ICT-based applications or infrastructures before looking at how governments and firms can overcome them. Because the context for adoption varies by country, each technology is being assessed in four representative European countries. Barriers can be technological, economic, or behavioural – such as when adoption requires significant changes in consumer behaviour.


The Impact

The task was to explore how ICT can play an enabling role in low carbon economies to reduced CO2 emissions. The team provided a mechanism for firms and experts to collaborate to develop useful estimates. They also discovered the need for a common approach to impact estimation in the future.


Following project completion, Alex Velkov, Senior Analyst on the project, summarises:

We aimed to collaborate with a range of companies, agencies and other academics to generate practical insights into how the power of ICT can be unleashed to create a greener Europe. Our work should be of value to firms and policy makers alike.

Alex Velkov,
Senior Analyst, Microsoft

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