Dissertation on Environmental impacts of ICT: present and future

By Yevgeniya Arushanyan on Fri Sep 16:th at 13.00 Location: Sal F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH

Published Sep 05, 2016

We are proud to announce a new PhD thesis. On Sep. 16, CESC researcher Yevgeniya Arushanyan will defend her dissertation, Environmental impacts of ICT: present and future.

Time: Fri 2016-09-16 13.00
Location: Sal F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH
Subject area: Planning and Decision Analysis with a specialization in Environmental Strategic Analysis
Doctoral student: Yevgeniya Arushanyan
Opponent: Dr Roland Hischier, EMPA, Switzerland
Supervisor: Docent Åsa Moberg

Yevgeniya Arushanyan is a PhD student in Planning and Decision Analysis with a specialization in Environmental Strategic Analysis at the department of Sustainable development, environmental science and engineering (SEED), Division for Environmental Strategies Research (fms). Her research concerns Environmental impacts of future information society and is carried out within the research project "Scenarios and sustainability impacts in information societies" at CESC.

In the morning of the dissertation there will be an open seminar on ICT use - assessing when and how it is sustainable

Abstract

ICT is developing rapidly and is playing an increasingly important role in society. High expectations are placed on ICT in relation to sustainable development. In order to provide basis for decision-making and ensure that ICT is used in the best possible way for enabling sustainable development, the sustainability impacts of ICT need to be studied.

This thesis aims to provide new knowledge on the environmental impacts related to ICT, to explore the potential of ICT to contribute to sustainability, and discuss ways of assessing environmental impacts of ICT. In order to fulfill the aim a literature review of existing LCA studies of ICT was done, an LCA case study of printed and online media was performed, a methodological framework for sustainability assessment of scenarios was developed and then applied for environmental assessment of future ICT societies.

The results show that manufacturing and use phase are the life cycle stages contributing the most to the ICT environmental impacts. For online newspapers online distribution and content production may give significant contribution to the overall impact. User behavior was observed to be crucial for the results of comparisons of ICT solutions with their traditional counterparts.

The following key issues were concluded to influence the environmental risks and opportunities in future ICT societies: energy mix, economic conditions, life styles, technology, and environmental ambitions, incentives and regulation.

A new methodological framework (SAFS) was developed for the assessment of future scenarios (societal level). Life cycle assessment (LCA) was used for assessment on a product level. Application of both methods, their benefits, drawbacks, and challenges of assessment were discussed. Both types of assessments were concluded to be important to support decision-making.

Keywords: Information and communication technology (ICT), Life cycle assessment (LCA), environmental impacts, online media, future scenarios, assessment methodology.

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