The savings were driven by improvements in areas such as building management and route planning, which has reduced energy and fuel use. Smartphones are also allowing people to work from home more easily and control heating and electricity systems more efficiently.
The 180 million tonne saving is approximately five times greater than emissions from the operation of the mobile networks.
The research, funded by Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), BT, EE, Telefónica UK (O2) and Vodafone, also highlighted potential areas for future carbon emissions reductions.
A survey of 4,000 smartphone users across the USA, UK, Spain, South Korea and Mexico found that 50% would be willing to use their smartphone to sell, rent or share items that they own, with others.
Likewise, more than half of the car drivers surveyed (55%) would consider having a device fitted that would reduce car insurance if they drove in a safer, more environmentally friendly way, while 48% would be more likely to use public transport if they had a mobile app to see precisely when the next service would arrive.
Carbon Trust senior consultant Andie Stephens said: “Mobile is going to have a key role to play in helping to tackle climate change. But the impact the technology is having today is just a fraction of its full potential.
“Given the urgency of the challenge the world faces then there is a clear case to accelerate the adoption of the various mechanisms through which mobile can help to cut carbon. It should also help promote green growth in the developing world, helping emerging economies to leapfrog over the need for certain types of high carbon infrastructure.”
Vodafone’s most recent CSR report claimed that its Internet of Things technology had helped customers cut emissions by 3.5 million tonnes.
Research by fellow mobile giant Ericsson found that the spread of mobile devices and and uptake of smart technology could help reduce global GHG emissions by up to 15% by 2030.
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