Solutions enabled by ICTs, including electronic components and systems, photonics and software, could reduce yearly global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) 20% by 2030. In particular, the deployment of electronics and digital in critical sectors such as transport, manufacturing, agriculture and food, building and energy management could eliminate the equivalent of 12.1 billion tons of CO2 per year, according to Smarter2030 Report. It is also important to highlight that by 2030, ICTs can save 9.7 times more emissions than they produce (1.25Gt of CO2 ICT footprint vs 12.08Gt of CO2 ICT-enabled saving). Other reports (e.g. World Bank Connections: Transport and ICT, 2015) also indicate that electronic components and systems is highly correlated with UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) performance. Countries that perform well on ICTs perform equally as well SDGs.
Investment in electronic components and system is key to help Europe achieve climate-neutrality by 2050
The European Green Deal sets the targeting of becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050. As a key enabling technology, microelectronics not only contributes to economic growth, but also responds to major societal challenges by developing innovative solutions. Europe cannot address climate change without investing in electronic components and systems. Micro- and nano-electronics, integrated into power electronic modules and systems, are essential for an efficient, reliable and secure management of power generation, transmission, storage and consumption through smart grids, safe and secure system applications and devices (Electronic Components and Systems Strategic Research Agenda, 2019).
Europe’s chemical policy should drive sustainability and innovation hand-in-hand
Chemicals play a critical role in the manufacturing of microelectronics. Certain chemicals might contain hazardous substances that are used in low concentrations in electronics manufacturing due to their critical properties. Replacing hazardous substances is a multi-stage process, and it requires heavy R&D investment, an invention, testing and verification, which takes several years. For instance, the nearly- complete elimination of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) from the semiconductor manufacturing industry has taken 10 years. After this consideration, if chemical restriction is necessary, the industry will need a sufficient period of time to identify, develop and substitute replacing hazardous substances, delivering the expected functionality and performance.