How ICT can contribute to realize a sustainable society in the future: a CGE approach

Many information and communications technology (ICT) services have become commonplace worldwide and are certain to continue to spread faster than before, particularly along with the commercialization of 5G and movement restrictions in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Although there is a concern that ICT equipment usage may increase power consumption and emit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, ICT has also been contributing to reducing GHG emissions through improved productivity and reduced mobility. This research targeted the main ICT services used in Japan and adopted a dynamic national computable general equilibrium model to quantitatively analyze future impacts on economic growth and GHG emission reduction until 2030 by using these ICTs, while considering both the increase in power consumption of ICT itself and the reduction in environmental load in other sectors. The results showed that the spread of ICT services, especially some artificial intelligence-based services, can improve productivity in most sectors through labor-saving and contribute to improving overall gross domestic product (GDP). Additionally, increased efficiency of logistics and manufacturing can greatly reduce the input of oil and coal products and so greatly contribute to GHG emission reduction. In 2030, compared with the baseline scenario in which all technology levels are fixed at current levels, at least 1% additional GDP growth and 4% GHG emission reduction can be expected by the targeted introduction of ICT in the ICT accelerated scenario in which the technology level of ICT accelerates. This also means ICT can potentially decouple the economy from the environment. © 2021, The Author(s).

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