Metastudy “Sustainability effects of digitalisation”

Publication date: 14 February 2024 | Report language: DE

Digitalisation holds both potentials and risks for a sustainable future. This is the conclusion of a comprehensive study conducted by Technopolis Germany and the Institute for Ecological Economy Research on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. A total of 200 studies on the topic of digitalisation and sustainability were analysed across eight subject areas. The results present a complex picture: on the one hand, certain applications such as building automation, smart charging or intelligent agricultural systems can contribute to significant environmental benefits such as CO2 savings, for example through resource efficiency. On the other hand, the production of digital technologies generates significant emissions. Rebound effects, for instance, can cancel out some of the savings. Overall, research on the sustainability potentials of digitalisation is still insufficient in many areas.

The study underlines the need for further research, for example in the area of the overall effect of digitalisation on resource consumption. It is recommended to comprehensively assess the ecological impacts of digital technologies and to examine both upstream and downstream effects in more detail.