Europe

Achieving Digital Sustainability

European electronic communications regulators present first common ambitions to limit the digital sector’s impact on the environment


On Wednesday, 16 March, BEREC (Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications) presented the draft of its first report on the digital sector’s impact on the environment and is inviting stakeholders to contribute to the public consultation on the report by sharing their inputs before 14 April. The document compiles the main findings of BEREC’s activities on environmental issues surrounding digital technologies since the set-up of the dedicated Sustainability working group, which is co-chaired by Arcep and Czech regulator, CTU. The draft report is being published along with an external study on the environmental impact of electronic communications.

The report affirms the ambitions held by BEREC electronic communications regulator members to contribute to ICT’s green transition and has identified four key workstreams to this end:

  • Improve the reliability of available data and call for harmonised methodologies

Electronic communications regulators have a role to play in improving the reliability of data and in solidifying the harmonisation of the methodologies used assess the digital carbon footprint. To this end, in June 2022 BEREC will initiate a new workstream devoted to establishing relevant indicators for evaluating the sustainability of electronic communications networks and services.

  • Encourage transparency and commit to data-driven regulation that benefits users

Environmental transparency on digital products and services is a major lever for empowering users to make informed choices. BEREC points to data-driven regulation’s ability to create positive incentives in the sector.

  • Identify and promote best practices in the sector

Identifying and promoting the best practices deployed by ICT sector stakeholders: operators, content and application providers, device makers…

  • Use regulatory tools to tackle environmental imperatives

BEREC wants to leverage NRAs’ traditional regulatory tools that can help minimise the sector’s environmental footprint, such as the pooling of certain parts of networks, civil engineering work coordination and spectrum management.

Arcep’s commitment to the BEREC “Sustainability” working group, in sync with the work it is doing at the national level on “Achieving digital sustainability”

Arcep has been a driving force on environmental issues within BEREC since 2020, serving as Co-chair of the Sustainability working group and sharing its experience and the work it is doing at the national level through its “Achieving digital sustainability” platform (see Press release of 5 October 2021).

Alongside regulatory authorities from Ireland (ComReg) and Finland (Traficom), Arcep is among the pioneer electronic communications regulators in the area of digital sustainability, as underscored in this report.

The digital and green transitions extend beyond national framework: sharing of experiences and best practices within the dedicated forum for dialogue that is BEREC is thus key to build a coordinated approach to tackling these issues at the European level.

Associated documents:

Initial version of the BEREC report on Sustainability

Contribute to the public consultation on the report (running until 14 April 2022)

External study on the environmental impact of electronic communications