Research suggests that information and communication technologies (ICTs) have a nonlinear relationship with CO2 emissions, specifically an inverted U-shaped curve similar to the environmental Kuznets curve (EKC). While extant research has investigated the relationship using an ICT index, there has been no research looking at smartphones, which have been closely associated with the explosive growth in the use of mobile apps and a build-out of large information systems to support their use. To address this gap, this research examines the relationship of ICTs and smartphones with CO2 emissions by employing a country-level data set for the period from 2009 to 2014. Our results show that the relationship of ICTs with CO2 emissions takes an inverted U-shaped curve form, consistent with the EKC hypothesis. Our OLS results also show that CO2 emissions increase with spending on smartphones but decrease as smartphone spending increases further; however, these results are not consistent in fixed effects models. These findings imply that carbon emissions go up with the penetration of ICTs in poorer countries but in wealthier countries ICT penetration and smartphone spending is related to lower CO2 emissions. The results should not be taken as evidence that ICTs cannot lead to greater sustainability in poorer countries, but should be seen as a call for the IS community to help all countries apply existing knowledge and develop new knowledge to use ICTs to reduce emissions in response to the immediate challenge of climate change.
Shin, Namchul and Dedrick, Jason, "Smartphones and Environmental Sustainability: A Country-Level Analysis" (2021). ECIS 2021 Research Papers. 110.
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