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The European Commission is calling on the technology and communications industry to not only sort out its own energy use and carbon emissions but also help the rest of industry make cuts too.

Greater use of technology will help the European Union achieve its targets for cutting carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 and getting 20 per cent of European energy from renewable sources, we are told.

Information Commissioner Viviane Reding said: "ICT have an enormous untapped potential for saving energy right across the economy. I personally would recommend to the ICT sector to show the way for the rest of the economy by reducing its own carbon footprint already by 2015 by 20 per cent."

The Commission calls on the IT industry to set itself concrete targets. It also wants "working partnerships" between IT firms and building, construction and transport firms. Several tech companies have made voluntary pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions, although only Sun Microsystems hopes to meet the 20 per cent target by 2015.

The Commission wants member states to set minimal functional specifications for smart meters for use in homes. Smart metering can cut energy consumption by up to ten per cent.

Technology systems can cut energy use in buildings by 17 per cent and slash transport logistics carbon emissions by 27 per cent, the Commission believes.

More radically the Commission seems to be suggesting that the IT industry has a role to play in increasing the use of micro-generation of electricity from renewable resources.

"ICT tools can monitor a range of variables and ensure that both individuals and the network as a whole gain maximum efficiency from the energy generation capacity available." the Commission statement said.

The EC also announced a public consultation "to establish a common base for commitments to and claims of improved energy efficiency".

The ICT industry itself contributes two per cent to Europe's total carbon emissions - 1.75 per cent from use of the systems and 0.25 from their production. The Commission believes it has an important role in cutting the remaining 98 per cent. ®

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