Work started on this project, initiated by the EU, in mid-1994 and was concluded in November 1995. The study explored the possible advantages and disadvantages of new communications technologies for the environment. Project participants came from Italy, Denmark, France, Spain and the USA. The main aim was to analyse environmental effects of the introduction and use of advanced communications technologies. In particular, the potential uses of Advanced Communications (AC) and its environmental impact in industry, services and administration were analysed. The core of the project was formed by detailed case studies of the use of Advanced Communications in these sectors. On this basis existing technical and organisational barriers were identified; in a second step necessary developments and innovative utilisation forms required to overcome them were analysed.
The analysis of the environmental impact of AC covered four levels of interaction: the life cycle of AC products, the use of AC for environmental monitoring and control, productivity-enhancing effects of AC, and the replacement of polluting activities by AC. While most of the effects were positive at all levels, some disadvantages were also identified. The main positive contribution probably results from the efficiency-enhancing effect of AC. Although productivity growth is normally linked to reduced environmental pollution, the full potential can only be exploited if the implementation of AC explicitly includes environmental objectives. The environment-oriented optimisation of production processes is not just a question of individual technologies or applications, but of the integration of AC in the supply process as a whole. In this respect it is vital that positive stimulus and motivation is provided by the government. Apart from legal restrictions on environmental pollution there is also a need for measures that will result in greater account being taken of negative external environmental effects when the cost of alternative inputs are compared.
01/1994 - 12/1995