Greenhouse gases (GHGs) including carbon dioxide (CO2
), nitrous oxide (N2
O) and methane (CH4
), facilitate to balance the Earth’s temperature through a thermal heat exchange. However, because of fossil fuel burning, the GHG concentration within the atmosphere has increased, with consequent global climate change. This calls for reducing GHG emissions by the use of renewable energy resources, efficient energy utilization, transforming GHGs to non-greenhouse compounds and capture or perhaps storage of GHGs (Liu 2012
). Since carbon dioxide (CO2
) makes up the vast majority of GHG emissions, this research study will focus on carbon dioxide (CO2
) emissions and also address the other GHGs, pollution and waste footprints. Therefore, the authors use CO2
emissions as a synonym for GHG emissions.
According to the United Nations, the world today is more united than before on the goal of combating CO2
emissions to achieve sustainable development. The global trend today concerning the earth’s finite resources consumption is unsustainable and has resulted in environmental issues including a loss of biodiversity, depletion of resources, air pollution and climate change. Sustainable development aims to meet current needs without compromising the future (Boudreau et al. 2008
; Imasiku 2018
). Therefore, ecological sustainable development is critical for sustainable development. “Ecological Sustainable Development (ESD) is conserving and enhancing the community’s resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, and the quality of life for both present and future generations is maintained” (Business Dictionary 2019
As more people become wealthy, they tend to adopt affluent lifestyles that incorporate complex technologies and machinery, which consume more resources. Technology is therefore both a cause of the environmental burdens and conjointly a possible solution. Since controlling population growth and wealth accumulation is always a challenge, there is a need to invest in technologies that have smaller carbon footprints. Examples of technologies capable of reducing carbon emissions and petroleum use include Fischer–Tropsch (FT) techniques for chemical bio-refineries to produce biomass-derived transportation fuels with lower life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions (Joelsson and Gustavsson 2012
). These technologies are capable of facilitating reductions in carbon footprints if biomass replaces coal or oil in stationary applications (Olivier et al. 2016
; Imasiku 2018
; Lin and Lin 2014
). In the transport sector, the use of electric cars can replace some use of fossil fuels and public transportation is a low-cost approach to reduced emissions.
Other notable technologies that can lower carbon footprints include Green information technology (IT), Green information system (IS) and IT. Information technology is a technology that transmits, processes and/or stores information (Boudreau et al. 2008
). Information technology plays a double role of a polluting agent and as a powerful tool that can scale back the environmental impact of different products, operations or businesses (Bachour 2012
). Green IT refers to introducing innovative IT products together with their associated application services and practices to reduce the impact of IT on the environment (Zaman and Sedera 2015
). Although information technology (IT) contributes to about 2% of the world’s GHGs, it has potential to provide solutions to the other 98% of GHG emissions using information technology applications such as green information systems (Imasiku 2018
; Vella 2018
; Bachour 2012
). In contrast, Green IS is the design and implementation of information systems that contribute to sustainable business processes (Boudreau et al. 2008
). Green IS may have greater potential than Green IT because it tackles issues that are capable of making entire systems more sustainable, compared to merely reducing the energy required to operate computer systems (Zaman and Sedera 2015
). Previous research work by Daqing Zheng established linkages between organizational theories of green information technology and information systems as technologies that can reduce energy consumption and carbon footprints in computer systems and other business operation (Zheng 2014
; Khor et al. 2015
). To easily understand the differences between the IT, information and communication technology (ICT), Green IT, IS and Green information technology systems (ITS) terminologies, the authors have provided several definitions below (Table 1
) to differentiate them from one another comprehensively and further highlighted the technical variations between them in Table 2
(Zeng et al. 2018
shows that although ICT is the mother terminology for all the other technologies, it is limited to communication technologies and does not incorporate some critical dependent variables like GHG emissions, technology management and GHG emission global policies that govern and prescribe GHG emission cuts and management. Lack of stronger policies concerning GHG emissions reductions has resulted in a GHG emission merry-go-round.
The trend of the GHG emissions preceding 2015 shows that the highest emitter, China, along with the United States, cut back their GHG emissions in 2015 by 0.7% and 2.6%, respectively. Russia and Japan also decreased their emissions by 3.4% and 2.2%. However, all these efforts to decrease the GHG emissions globally were counter-balanced by the GHG emissions increase in India by 5.1% and 1.3% in the European Union (Olivier et al. 2016
). The impact of such activities concerning GHG emissions on a global scale renders these efforts to combat GHGs null and void (Imasiku 2018
). This presented a global ‘merry-go-round’ scenario, where some countries strive to scale back the carbon emissions while others nullify the global decrease by increasing their emissions. While the western world tries to cut back GHG emissions, the emerging countries are mostly in contrast because they increase their emissions as they strive to attain a developed nation status. The online learner’s dictionary defines a merry-go-round as “a set of recurrent activities that are fast, confusing, or troublesome to leave” (Learners Dictionary 2017
; Imasiku 2018
The following Green ITS Matrix table distinguishes the technologies in Table 1
according to technical capabilities of IT, ICT, Green IT, IS, Green IS and Green ITS.
shows that the two most competitive technologies are Green IS and Green ITS. Green ITS stands out to be better because it focuses on all sectors of society while Green IS focuses on the sustainable business sector alone. Furthermore, Green ITS also addresses SDG 7 and 13 and the CO2
emission merry-go-round. Green ITS shows a higher potential to enhance green growth.
While adopting green growth has paid off in some regions, a CO2
emission crisis looms on a global scale because the CO2
emission merry-go-round works against green growth. Many governments, international organizations and members of civil society and academia have so far built a case for green growth to address the crisis (Bina 2013
; Imasiku 2018
), but without stronger global policy, this green response may not be workable (Mead 2018
). The Paris Agreement of 2015 still depends on individual country/regional corporate social responsibility (CSR) and this has resulted in a global CO2
However, some regions and organizations have respected the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (Olivier et al. 2016
; Imasiku 2018
). For example, the US and the EU through an executive order number 13,423, instructed the implementing agents to conduct their carbon-intensive related activities in an environmentally and economically sound manner that integrates continuous improvement for an efficient and sustainable economy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture committed itself to implement its activities in a sustainable manner that enhances energy efficiency and cuts down CO2
emissions by using renewable energy, conserving water, acquiring green products and services, managing waste and recycling non-degradable material like plastics, reducing usage of toxicant and unsafe chemicals and materials, deploying sustainable technologies in buildings and using low-CO2
electric vehicles (United States Department of Agriculture Office of the Chief Information Officer 2009
; Imasiku 2018
; Lin and Lin 2014
; Simboli et al. 2014
). The aforesaid provides logical indication that the CO2
emissions should have been reduced by 2018 but this has not been the case. According to the Earth System Research Laboratory, the global average CO2
concentration in October 2018 was 406.41 parts per million-ppm (Earth System Research Laboratory 2019
). Further reference with the daily updated website, the current records stand at 413.96 ppm as of 22 January 20191
While the literature review shows the effort that has been made so far concerning governing policies and technological advancement, evidence showing CO2
emissions decrease remains missing. What is clear in the lack of cooperation regarding CO2
emission reduction is that a global environmental crisis looms if drastic mitigation measures are not taken. Another trend is that while the western world struggles to cut back on GHG emissions, the developing nations are not concerned with such measures as a result of their bid to achieve development (Olivier et al. 2016
). There is a need to address this looming crisis from a global point of view. This research paper focuses on finding a solution to resolve the GHG emission merry-go-round that has prevailed since 1959 (Carbon Brief 2018
The research paper proceeds as follows; Section 2
summarizes the literature on greenhouse gas emissions and its impacts, the governing policies of CO2
emissions, the significance of Green IT applications to enhance a green economy, the environmental benefits of CO2
emission cuts and the way to use renewables resources to reduce CO2
emissions and promote ecological sustainable development and sustainable development at the same time. This section ends with the authors’ conceptualized framework to guide the research. Section 3
presents the problem background and synthesizes it and offers a road map to resolve this issue using stronger global policy to drive the concept—Green information technology system (Green ITS) approach by all stakeholders to reduce CO2
emissions. It then identifies and states the global problem that has been prevalent since 1959 concerning the CO2
emission increase. Section 4
provides an in-depth explanation of the research method employed, and the requirements to resolve the CO2
emission problem. The proposed method uses both mathematical approaches and suggested software as a more practical industrial method considering the complexity of the existing systems. This method is scientifically supported with previous research studies and benchmarks by the 2016 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) revised report on method guidelines for estimating national inventories of CO2
emissions using higher tier methods for complex systems or plant-specific measurements and estimations. The selected method of validation uses a sustainability design that allows a fair business climate to prevail and highlights the significance of CO2
emission monitoring. Section 5
presents the results for the research study. Finally, a combined discussion and conclusion in Section 6
to address the results and provide insight into the Green ITS concept; the impact of CO2
emissions; the importance of global policy compared to the prevailing corporate social responsibility (CRS) approach; the significance of usage of renewable energy to combat CO2
emissions and how all these can support the sustainability transitions in both developing and developed nations.
2. Literature Review
The key factors that are vital to unraveling Green IT as a possible greenhouse gas (GHG) emission game-changer worldwide are the GHG emission policy status, the significance of green growth, GHG impacts and the role of IT and its interaction with the business world. The utilization of ICT applications like Green IS would facilitate resolution of the CO2
emission issue and indirectly promotes renewable energy technologies (RETs) and a green economy (Lin and Lin 2014
The world’s green growth policy status decentralizes into different regions and countries but is guided by one overall global policy framework, the Paris Agreement of 2015. The authors argue that this agreement is efficient but may not be effective enough to combat or reduce the CO2
emissions, which have been on the increase since 1959. Green growth is the development of or transitioning to a low-carbon or a sustainable economy while cutting back pollution and CO2
emissions in a manner that is environmentally friendly and is defined according to a country’s or a region’s green policies (Bina 2013
). The country-specific or regional-specific policies are usually in two extremes but often overlap with the aim of promoting an efficient or productive low-carbon economy (OECD 2012
; Imasiku 2018
). This emphasis to varying degrees of dematerialization, decoupling of resource utilization, valuing ecological system services or innovative power systems with technologies that have high-efficiency in different nations. Increased capital utilization has implications on for long-term economic growth and improved human welfare that has increased its recognition by international and local organizations (Bina 2013
; Imasiku 2018
). This scenario of policy variations fuels the prevalence of CO2
emission global merry-go-round scenario, whereas some nations reduce their emissions other nations tend to increase theirs, leading to a zero impact in terms of worldwide CO2
emission reductions. This indicates that the planet presently is governed by less stiff policies because several companies and countries influence climate change policies to safeguard their investments. There is a need for the world to adopt a lean six sigma thinking approach to help cut back emissions of greenhouse gases, volatile organic compounds and waste and boost energy efficiency (Caldera et al. 2018
; Slack et al. 2013
; O’Neill 1996
; Imasiku 2018
The current existence of a carbon emission global merry-go-round creates a green response deficiency that sadly is not being viewed as a worldwide crisis in the face of humanity, because of the individual, organizational and country gains from their investment. However, protecting these personal gains is temporary because it would not be long before the planet stops to support plant and animal life. It is thus vital to embrace green growth globally (Imasiku 2018
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a green economy or green growth implies fostering economic growth and development while guaranteeing that the natural resources are exploited in an environmentally friendly manner. Green growth cannot replace sustainable development but is a pragmatic and versatile way of attaining measurable progress within the green economy with special attention being given to the environmental pillar of sustainability without neglecting the social consequences of the green growth process (OECD 2013
; Imasiku 2018
Green growth is important and matters to both developing and developed nations. While the emerging countries have a vital role to play in reducing global warming and easing the slow-approaching climate change crisis by deploying CO2
emission-free technologies like renewable energy technologies, the western world conjointly has a vital role to scale back CO2
emissions and promote green economies worldwide (Lin and Lin 2014
The developing nations are key to achieving global green growth in two major ways. First, the socio-economic impacts of environmental degradation are vital to the developing countries as they are the foremost vulnerable to climate change and lack the technological and financial ability to mitigate climate change although they are well endowed with unexplored natural resources. Additionally, many developing countries face severe socio-economic and ecological threats from energy poverty, and food and water insecurity caused by extreme weather risks that are a consequence of climate change. They conjointly face risks of high premature deaths because of air pollution, unclean water supply and diseases related to the ever-changing climate. These factors undermine their pursuit of development. Second, although nowadays least developed nations contribute minor shares to the global CO2
emissions compared to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and major emerging economies, they are likely to scale up their carbon footprints if they follow conventional economic growth patterns of the developed nations concerning fossil fuels. This is because developing nations are embarking on rapid economic growth programs without paying attention to CO2
emissions and environmental degradation as they explore their natural resources (European Union 2013
; Imasiku 2018
However, despite the good initiatives to monitor and control CO2
emissions by the developed nations, in their respective regions, their efforts will be in vain, nullified or offset if they do not get complementary efforts from the developing nations to use carbon-free technologies. A good initiative worth noting is the regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013, which came up with a mechanism of monitoring GHGs and reporting them at the country level and regional level to repeal against member states if their activities enhanced climate change (European Union 2013
; Imasiku 2018
Since 1959, projections of how the CO2
emissions are likely to increase over the succeeding 20 years, by regions, facilitated the predictions of expected premature deaths due to compromised water supply, air pollution and diseases related to a changing climate (OECD 2012
). Figure 1
below shows the CO2
emission trend from 1959 to 2018.
above shows that CO2
emissions have been increasing since 1959 to 2018. According to the Carbon Brief, the Gigatonnes of CO2
e of CO2
) emissions will have risen to about 37.15 billion tonnes of CO2
) by 2018 with China and the US being the two largest emitters.
The projection is supported by the prevailing CO2
emissions trends since 1959, shows in Figure 2
, that the CO2
emissions will still increase even by 2050. However, the worrying reality is that these significant increases also translate into ruinous impacts on plants, animals and humans. The figure below shows the global premature deaths associated with a CO2
shows that by 2050, the world expects to record about eight million premature deaths because of risks associated with CO2
emission pollution and climate change related risks. In 2015, the world estimated about seven million premature deaths2
Both developed and developing countries ought to be committed to resolving the GHG emissions issue. However, the lack of commitment by both blocs, including the G20 is the cause of the present CO2 emissions crisis. The authors deduce that developing countries fall short of the commitment to promote green response and justify their poor cooperation, citing that they have more pressing problems like high impoverishment among the people and poor development levels. The authors argue that ensuring that a sustainable planet prevails is more important than shortsighted national interests and gains. Furthermore, it is essential that as more emerging countries strive to develop or become greater, there is a higher chance that their activities will make the planet less habitable. On the other side, the developed countries tend to focus on trying to safeguard their investments, gains and interests and this presents a threat on their adherence or commitment to global climate change policies concerning CO2 emission-free technologies deployment.
To address the CO2
emissions issue, Green IT applications are capable of offering some practical solution because their impact is far less than 2% of the global share of total CO2
emissions. Green IT is defined as the act of implementing policies and procedures to improve the efficiency of computer resources in a manner that cuts back the energy consumption and environmental impact of their utilization. As a compound noun of environment and information technology, Green IT deals with environmental issues such as pollution, energy consumption, disposal and recycling of material resources. Since information technology (IT) is the driving technology for information and communication technology (ICT) applications, it is also capable of managing enterprise activities in an environmentally sustainable manner throughout the product life cycle and its associated services and resources (Zaman and Sedera 2015
; Imasiku 2018
). However, since information technology will run information systems to support sustainable business practices, technology becomes an important means by which the world will address its problems. Leveraging technologies that are carbon free to produce goods and services that are environmentally friendlier is a significant endeavor that presents smart opportunities for the commerce and trade sector (Boudreau et al. 2008
; Imasiku 2018
; Lin and Lin 2014
From a business point of view, the information systems approach gives solutions to the problem faced within the firm because it combines management, organization and technology elements. The management dimension comprises elements of strategy, leadership and management behavior while the technology dimension comprises computer hardware and software including Internet, data management and telecommunications technologies. Last, the organization’s hierarchy, functional specialties, business processes, organizational culture and business politics are the main elements of the organization dimension (Laudon and Laudon 2014
; Imasiku 2018
). Owing to the afore stated facts, the authors combined the Green IT and Green IS concepts to develop the Green ITS concept as an approach to address the global carbon emission issue. Authors define Green ITS as “a sustainable information technological design of a business information system that monitors carbon, energy, water and waste footprints to enhance green growth and avoid a merry-go-round syndrome using a global legislature”. This definition implies that the term CO2
emission henceforward will incorporate carbon, energy, water and waste footprints in this research paper. Figure 4
below shows the authors’ conceptualized framework derived from the literature review to guide the study.
The conceptual framework in Figure 4
shows the implementation of Green ITS programs on the right-hand side to be pursued simultaneously with the development of socio-economic indicators on the left-hand side. Green ITS provides environmental benefits, which contribute both to socio-economic development, green growth and sustainable development.
Furthermore, the framework shows that the use of renewable energy contributes towards achieving sustainable development through increased business hours and opportunities, improved health, education and technology and enhances energy accessibility by all. The framework also introduces the synergies of carbon emissions with renewable energy, as they are both dependent variables of a green economy and sustainable development. The role of renewable energy in a green economy enhances a clean hygiene environment with less waste, and less pollution by fossil fuels. This contributes to people’s socio-economic wellbeing through access to clean energy, better health and more business opportunities.
In summary, this literature review provides a baseline for this study by foremost presenting many previous studies and policy documents, and analyzing their impact on the overall aim of reducing CO2
emissions. Until today, the world has built a case that there is a need to transform to renewables and enhance green growth. The authors also emphasize the need to have stronger global governing policies on climate change. NASA graphs by Robert Simmon supported by knowledge from the NOAA Paleoclimatology and Earth System Research Science Laboratory show that there has been a rise in concentrations of CO2
emissions that coincided with the Industrial Revolution since 1750 (Riebeek 2010
). While this paper does not focus on the policies that have governed CO2
emissions until today, the authors argue that the current climate change policies have been efficient but have not been effective enough to combat CO2
emissions. At present, the world has recorded over 410 ppm at an annual growth rate of about 2 ppm. Going by this growth rate, the authors predict a looming global crisis, unless mitigation techniques to slow down or stop the emissions are put in place worldwide. In alignment with this research, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released a report on how the global carbon dioxide (CO2
) emissions rose again by 2017 citing failure to deliver on the Paris Agreement by most countries as the cause. The Paris Agreement emphasizes keeping global warming to below 2 °C from pre-industrial levels (UN News et al. 2018
). The authors infer that there is a need for stronger global policies so that countries may import the agreed Paris Agreement targets into national laws and policies and translate them into measurable climate action (Boudreau et al. 2008
; Mead 2018
Although global governance policies like those formulated by the IPCC and the Paris Agreement are in situ, the current set-up does not have follow-up mechanisms in place on who is complying with the Paris Agreement policies in terms of the prescribed carbon emission reduction factors or other benchmarks like those established at the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories of 2016, held at Minsk, Republic of Belarus (IPCC 2016
; NCASI 2005
The literature review outlined a prevailing trend that the authors describe as a GHG merry-go-round where, while some nations reduce their CO2 emissions, other nations increase theirs, leading to a zero net impact on worldwide CO2 emission reductions. The authors are highlighting that the planet is facing a policy crisis because companies and nations are re-defining these Paris Agreement policies to suit their interests and gains. The authors point to the need for all nations to embrace a lean six sigma thinking way to promote the values that are beyond mere corporate social responsibility (CSR) to combat GHG emissions worldwide. The authors stress the need to have stiffer global policies and presumably a monitoring body as well to ensure compliance with the Paris Agreement deliverables by all. While this may sound over-ambitious and challenging to achieve, it is only workable if the stakeholders cooperate.
The authors developed a conceptual framework which shows that the use of renewable energy will contribute towards reducing carbon emissions because it is a dependent variable that affects both green response and climate change. There is a need to improve the manufacturing technologies so that fewer CO2
emissions are experienced worldwide (Simboli et al. 2014
By combining Green IT and Green IS principles to develop the Green ITS research approach, the authors suggest that Green ITS is a more viable solution to combat the CO2 emission problem than the Green IT approach because Green ITS combines management, organizational and technology dimensions of climate change to mitigate and adapt, especially if supported by global policy. The Green ITS concept shows the potential to combat the CO2 emissions that are impacting the ecological systems of the earth, disturbing the natural food chain supply systems by altering the life-supporting climate. Successful control of CO2 emissions could be achieved if the world establishes stronger climate change global policies and an improved CO2 emissions monitoring system, using the Green ITS concept, would benefit the worldwide pursuit to achieve a global green economy that promotes ecological sustainable development. The succeeding section presents the problem background and a problem statement of the study.
As opposed to the simpler idea that Green IT is the game changer, it is now clear that Green ITS is the real game changer capable of reducing CO2 emissions globally because it combines management, organizational and technology dimensions, hence meeting the demands of sustainable development pillars—the planet, the people and profits.
Green IT is the practice of implementing policies and procedures that improve the efficiency of computing resources in a way that reduces the energy consumption and environmental impacts of the utilization of computer systems. Information technology (IT) is the focal point and driving technology of information and communication technology (ICT) applications like Green IT and Green IS. Information technology helps to manage enterprise activities of products, services and resources in an intelligent and sustainable manner throughout their equipment life cycle (Zaman and Sedera 2015
; Vella 2018
). This points to information technology as core skills for running the information systems in order to support sustainable business activities. Technology is a vital tool that the world can use to address its global problems. The leverage behind technologies to produce goods and services that are environmentally friendlier translates into viable business opportunities (Boudreau et al. 2008
; Imasiku 2018
To accommodate all sectors other than the computer systems alone, a business perspective and approach to combat GHG emissions is inevitable. The information systems (IS) approach has the potential to resolve the GHG emissions problem because it provides a technical approach, which addresses broader issues faced by firms by combining management, organization and technology elements. The management dimension comprises of leadership, strategy and management behavior while the technology dimension comprises computer hardware and software, data management technology and computer networking (including internet) and telecommunications technology. The organization dimension involves issues like the organizations’ hierarchy, functional specialties, business processes, culture and political issues (Laudon and Laudon 2014
; Imasiku 2018
). Chowdhury introduced sustainability to IS and defined Green IS as a sustainable management system that is designed to manage data and information as an output to support specific research, scholarly and/or decision-making activities (Chowdhury 2012
; Table 1
). The authors conjointly utilized the concepts of Green IT and Green IS to develop the green information technology system (Green ITS) concept as the technique that is capable of combating GHG emissions worldwide. The authors define Green ITS as a sustainable information technological design of a business information system that monitors carbon, energy, water and waste footprints to enhance green growth and avoid a merry-go-round syndrome using a strong global policy.
While many developing nations concentrate on improving the country’s human development index (HDI) without paying much attention to the energy development index (EDI), they may find themselves making little progress because HDI and EDI have socio-economic synergies. The HDI shows in so many ways that access to reliable energy has positive effects on human development. Access to energy is a primary need and an enabler to other service industries such as rural clinics and schools and manufacturing industries. This includes access to clean water and sanitation services. The 2012 World Energy Outlook report showed that the EDI scores for most developing countries remain low and Sub-Saharan African as a region scores the least4
Energy forms a foundation for modern economies and therefore is a focal need for modern life. It is a prerequisite for improved living conditions, poverty alleviation and economic growth as stipulated by the UN—SDG 7, which emphasizes access to affordable, clean energy for all. Although renewable energy technologies (RETs) can offer the desired clean energy and directly resolves the CO2
emission problem, this is not easily achievable because the energy infrastructure in most countries are fossil fuel-based and the renewable technology infrastructure is still not affordable by all. Other challenges surrounding the use of renewables are poor accessibility and the lack of large-scale storage facilities so they are used when needed (The Fundamental Limitations of Renewable Energy 2019
Most governments and international organizations like the IPCC, the UN, civil society and academia have contributed to enhancing green growth by advocating for the deployment of renewable energies as a strategy to resolve the CO2
emission problem (Bina 2013
), but without stronger policies and merely depending on CSR, all CO2
emission cut back efforts would be null and void and cause a global CO2
The Green ITS framework in Figure 9
, showing the interplay between the global policy, Green ITS and carbon emissions, serves as a good summary of our research findings.
The author’s own-conceptualized Green ITS model in Figure 6
shows that there is a need for the world to consider adopting a worldwide policy to avoid the prevalent CO2
emission merry-go-round. The order of importance in the Green ITS model is 1, 2 and 3 implying that global policy is a priority for driving the Green ITS to reduce the CO2
emissions merry-go-round worldwide.
Because of the observation in Section 4.5.3
, in Figure 8
, that the highest CO2
emissions stage, in the life cycle of some pieces of equipment is during manufacturing and in the context of the ’planet’ pillar, the authors recommend that greater engineering efforts are made at the manufacturing stage to reduce the emissions increase without neglecting the profit pillar. Additionally, the CO2
emissions budget cuts and the ambition by mankind to replace fossil fuel infrastructures with renewables should ensure that a fair business climate prevails with all individuals, firms or countries competing favorably.
The world has today exceeded the threshold of 410 ppm5
and is experiencing climate impacts already and health impacts associate with burning of biomass and fossil fuels. By 2015, seven million people died prematurely from pollution-related diseases, accounting for about 16% of all deaths worldwide (OECD 2012
). It is also projected that about eight million people will have died prematurely by 2050 because of impacts associated with pollution and climate change (Figure 3
). Having a strong global policy and possibly a UN organization to monitor and implement the global green growth project through Green ITS would assist the reduction of CO2
emissions worldwide and save lives.
The authors advocate for the adoption of the Green ITS concept as a game-changer capable of resolving the carbon emission merry-go-round that is impacting the ecological systems on earth and food chain systems by altering the life-supporting climate on earth.
Adopting the Green ITS, fostering green growth through renewable energy usage, must not be seen as being a costly activity of doing business but as an opportunity for organizations and nations to cut back their carbon footprints, reduce costs, improve productivity for increased profitability and sustainability. Failure to use resources effectively, having energy inefficiency, noise, heat and other emissions are all forms of waste products, which lead to environmental burdens that consequently deduct from the potential for economic growth in most nations. A lean six sigma production should be everyone’s approach because it would yield a reduction in waste and translate into more efficient enterprising firms. Pursuing Green ITS to create more sustainable businesses would benefit the local communities, customers, investors and future generations. However, this is achievable if stronger policies exist because the CO2 emission cutbacks have been left to be addressed through corporate social responsibility (CSR) and this approach has to date yielded little or no positive result. The annual growth rate of CO2 in the atmosphere is 2 ppm and as of January 2019, the total CO2 concentration stands at 413.96 ppm.
Although the formulation of stronger global policies or a legislature is not an easy task because most stakeholders in the world today have different interests, gains and motives, the exercise of cutting back the CO2
emissions must not be viewed as an expensive activity but as a chance for the world to scale back its carbon footprints, which present risks to humanity. Some benefits of such an exercise are improved productivity, reduced waste, increased profitability and sustainability on a global scale (Boudreau et al. 2008
Since renewable energy resources and RETs can reduce significantly carbon emissions through displacing fossil power generation, a cutback on CO2 emissions would indirectly encourage a high usage of renewable resources and the associated technologies. Although CO2 emissions have not exploded from 2015 to 2017, a 2% increase was experienced in 2017.
So far the present GHG emission policies that place confidence in CSR have not managed to curb the GHG emission increase that has prevailed since 1959. The authors deduced that the current policies guiding the climate change problem are efficient, but not effective enough to manage the worldwide CO2
emissions To resolve the current GHG emission crisis, diplomatic approaches like CSR is not adequate but with a bit of force, a new collective approach like the corporate shared value (CSV) may be cultivated in all stakeholders (Foschi and Bonoli 2019
; Amor-Esteban et al. 2018
). CSR is subjective to political will.
Although renewable energy technologies (RETs) present a good solution, they are still not yet affordable to all. The current international policies are not very favorable to the existing coal power plants, nuclear power plants and hydropower plants because they tend to give a lot of economic energy for many nations with fossil fuels offering an alternative for base-load power. Within Europe and conjointly the United States, the leveled cost of producing power from a new gas turbine is currently less costly than from a new coal-fired unit and this is increasing the popularity of deploying new gas-fired and making the coal-fired plants to skew towards coal in mostly the developing countries due to their dependence on expensive imports for gas supply resources. The struggle to establish a balance between environmental sustainability, financial gain and energy equity poses a serious sustainable development challenge, which is even worsened by the absence of a global price on air pollution and carbon emissions6
. The world has abundant renewable energy resources especially wind and solar energy although they are not available everywhere and at all times. This research points to a need for further research work on energy storage systems so that renewables could be utilized where it is not available and when needed. Though photovoltaic (PVs) prices have fallen, the PVs with high efficiencies of about 43% are still uncommercialized7
while the commercialized PVs have low efficiencies, in the range of 20%. There is a need to find a way to reduce the cost of more efficient PVs so that the entire solar spectrum is harvested. In 2017, a US-based firm, SkyThrough Solar Concentrator reported having produced the world’s most efficient concentrator PVs with efficiencies of about 73% but again, this PV is not yet commercialized, still expensive and thus not affordable by the poor majority8
. Since there is a correlation between having access to affordable, reliable energy and development, it also follows that the human development index (HDI) depends on the energy development index (EDI). This is true because the most underdeveloped nations in the world also experience energy poverty. Renewables can reduce energy poverty and enhance green growth and sustainable development.
Sustainable development is not just for the developing world alone but for the developed world as well because the environmental impacts manifesting as global warming and climate change do not spare the developed nations. However, the authors recommend that developing nations over-embrace green growth than developed nations because they suffer greater consequences than developed nations due to both financial and technological inadequacy to deal with climate adaptation and mitigation. However, this does not mean that climate mitigation and adaptation is just for developing nations, but for both worlds. To achieve a sustainable energy development, we recommend the enforcement of the efficient use of electricity through sustainable development licenses or renewable energy certifications (REC certification) as a global criterion of awarding business opportunities.
To ensure that a fair business climate prevails, and to allow the countries to make a smooth transition from fossil fuel investment and infrastructure to renewables, a cost-benefit analysis should always be conducted before determining the country-specific emission reduction factors because of the high capital investment on the current fossil energy infrastructure. The CO2
emission reduction process should consider the people, planet and profits (3Ps) before allocated over reasonable durations and fair CO2
budget cuts or CO2
emission factors like those shown in Table 3
in Section 4.2
to enhance sustainable development through green growth. Apart from CO2
emissions, reduced environmental impacts through reduced material usage, water usage and general waste would increase sustainability and energy efficiency.
From Section 4.5.3
, Figure 8
, it is observed that the highest CO2
emissions stage, in the life cycle of some types of equipment, is at manufacturing. In a contextual view of the ‘planet’ pillar of sustainable development, we recommend that greater engineering effort to reduce emissions should be adopted at the manufacturing stage. However, this should not be done without considering the profit pillar as this may motivate manufacturers to seek more financial gains in the pretext of developing sophisticated engineering equipment.
Of great importance is that the authors advocate for the formulation of global policy and a UN organization whose primary aim will be to implement the global green growth projects through the ICT applications like the Green ITS concept to monitor and cut back the CO2 emission and stop the CO2 emission merry-go-round worldwide. The Green ITS concept combines management, organizational and technology dimensions of climate change mitigation and adaptation. This makes it capable of not just being a greenhouse gas emission game changer in the world but a future planet and lifesaver to humans, animals and plants. Besides this, the authors are calling for a more united and centralized governing body whose main role would be to monitor and evaluate the CO2 emissions cuts worldwide because global CO2 emissions have continued to increase. The energy economics analysis and CO2 emission budget compliance role is not supposed to be left to individual firms or countries to calculate but rather be monitored in a coordinated manner that does not disadvantage those that are compliant to the allocated CO2 emissions cuts or budgets.
The allocation of emission-cuts should not be left to the implementing agents, firms or countries to avoid bias analysis and non-compliance. This existing gap in today’s climate governance system also makes the authors point to a more aggressive business approach of adopting the renewable energy certifications (REC certification) system as a global criterion of awarding business opportunities.
This insight by the authors concerning the need for a global policy is in agreement with a US-based thematic expert, Leila Mead, who explained in the article on climate change and sustainable energy, the recommendations by a team of climate experts from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK, in partnership with the University of Leeds, UK and the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at the Columbia Law School, New York, US, that stronger laws and policies are needed to implement the Paris Agreement because most governments are failing to import the agreed Paris Agreement targets into national laws and policies, and translate them into action (Mead 2018
While developing nations over-exploit their natural resources in an unsustainable manner to attain a developed nation status, some developed nations protect their investments in fossil fuels at the expense of sustainable development. Some developed nations trade off their carbon emissions with cleaner investments and others put their gains and interests first. Stronger laws and policies are needed to implement the Paris Agreement because most governments are failing to import the agreed Paris Agreement targets into national laws and policies, and translate them into action.
In another dimension, as more people and nations accumulate more wealth, they adopt affluent lifestyles that exploit sophisticated tools and technologies that consume resources excessively or in an unsustainable or wasteful manner, stronger global policies are necessary to enforce CO2 emissions reduction through the usage of renewable resources and less CO2 emission intensive technologies to enhance green growth and ecological sustainable development globally.
Future research is therefore encouraged on designing an artificial intelligence (AI) based software system to monitor carbon footprints and trace carbon emission budget-cut defaulters. Furthermore, in order to deliberately cultivate corporate shared values in most firms and nations, the allocation of emission-cuts should not be left to the implementing agents, firms or countries, to avoid bias analysis and non-compliance. There is a need to formulate a strategy to combat global GHGs. This existing gap in today’s climate governance system also points to the need for a more aggressive business approach of adopting a renewable energy certifications (REC certification) system as a global criterion of awarding business opportunities.
Green ITS technology can be taken advantage of to provide the technology services to reduce persistent carbon emissions. Green growth can be every nation’s pursuit alongside the utilization of renewable energy resources and renewable energy technologies to achieve ecological sustainable development.
Unless carbon emissions are discontinued or reduced, the world lies in a corridor of GHG crisis because of the GHG emission merry-go-round syndrome where some nations reduce their CO2 emissions, while other nations increase theirs, leading to a zero net impact on worldwide CO2 emission reductions. There is a need for all nations to embrace lean six sigma thinking to enhance the values that go beyond mere corporate social responsibility (CSR) to reduce GHG emissions worldwide. A corporate shared value (CSV) approach is recommended.
The overarching conclusion is that there is a need for the world to formulate a strong global policy or policies that will emphasize the use of renewables and drive the Green ITS concept to combat the CO2 emission merry-go-round and achieve ecological sustainable development.