The S-Curve Indicator: Week of April 1, 2013

This week’s indicator is 9.1 Gt CO2e, which is the potential annual reduction in global GHG emissions from information and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology by 2020, according to a report by the Carbon War Room. 9.1 Gt is roughly equivalent to the combined annual emissions of the United States and India. But beyond carbon abatement, M2M technology represents an enormous business opportunity: the industry as a whole is projected to be worth nearly $1 trillion by 2020. As the report states, “If we utilize technologies such as M2M to their full potential, ‘low carbon’ will by synonymous with economic growth and sustainable prosperity, now and into the future.”

The promise of M2M technology is the ability to drive profits by using resources and time more efficiently. In the energy sector, M2M can drive higher efficiencies in energy production and transmission, as well as facilitate smarter demand response strategies. M2M technology can enable farmers to make better decisions about what to plant, when to fertilize, and where to use water. The challenge for businesses is understanding where and how to adopt their business models to realize these new efficiencies. This often requires looking for opportunities at the convergence of non-traditional sectors. Examples cited in the study include smart meter provider Itron’s partnership with Deutsche Telekom to embed wireless network capabilities in its hardware, or the use of cellular networks to enable real-time monitoring for school bus fleets.

This is an entry in our series, The S-Curve Indicator, where we highlight a number that’s impacting the world of sustainability.