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The relevance of information and communication technologies for environmental sustainability - A prospective simulation study

  • Lorenz A. Hilty
  • Peter Arnfalk
  • Lorenz Erdmann
  • James Goodman
  • Martin Lehmann
  • Patrick A. Waeger
Publishing year: 2006
Language: English
Pages: 1618-1629
Publication/Series: Environmental Modelling & Software
Volume: 21
Issue: 11
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have relevant positive and negative impacts on environmental sustainability on various levels: First-order effects such as increasing electronic waste streams; second-order effects such as improved energy-efficiency of production; third-order effects such as a product-to-service shift in consumption or rebound effects in transport. In the simulation study described in this article, all known relevant effects on all three levels were modeled using a System Dynamics approach in combination with scenario techniques and expert consultations. The prospective study for the European Union with a time-horizon until 2020 revealed great potential for ICT-supported energy management and for a structural change towards a less material-intensive economy, but strong rebound effects in the transport sector whenever ICT applications lead to time or cost savings for transport. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • structural change
  • system dynamics
  • and simulation
  • socio-economic modelling
  • information society
  • sustainable development
  • environmental impact
  • information technology
  • communication technology
  • material intensity
  • rebound effect
  • prospective technology assessment


  • ISSN: 1364-8152
Peter Arnfalk
E-mail: peter [dot] arnfalk [at] iiiee [dot] lu [dot] se

International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE)

Lund University P.O. Box 196, 22100 Lund, Sweden
Visiting Address: Tegnérsplatsen 4,Lund

Telephone: + 46 46 222 00 00 Fax: + 46 46 222 02 10