Leveraging Data for Climate Action – Event Report

Utilising Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is crucial for effective climate action, offering innovative solutions for monitoring, mitigating, and adapting to climate change.  

In this context, Digital4Planet attended on 10 May a side event of the ninth annual Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs (STI Forum) 2024, themed ‘Science, technology and innovation for reinforcing the 2030 Agenda and eradicating poverty in times of multiple crises: the effective delivery of sustainable, resilient and innovative solutions’. 

This event explored successful strategies and international standards to harness ICT solutions for combating climate change and achieving climate resilience. Key objectives included: 

(i) emphasising the ICT sector’s role in advancing sustainability,  

(ii) discussing the use of international standards for driving sustainable practices, and 

(iii) exploring collaborative initiatives like Green Digital Action.  

Additionally, the session addressed the importance of standardised data collection and the application of Recommendation ITU-T L.1480 in assessing ICT solutions’ impact on greenhouse gas emissions across various sectors. 

Our key takeaways:

  1. In the ICT sector, sustainability is critical, especially through SDG 13 (Climate action) with a specific focus on the positive impact (ITU); 

  2. ICTs, digital solutions and the resulting efficiencies have the potential to cut global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in other sectors by 15% by 2030: AI alone, for instance, is capable to shave 5 to 10% off of global GHG emissions (Tomas Lamanauskas, Deputy Secretary General, ITU); 

  3. However, we still face an acute lack of data on the emissions produced by the ICT industry itself worldwide; only a few countries (e.g. France) have started collecting and publishing the kind of data relevant for grappling seriously with this lack (Tomas Lamanauskas, Deputy Secretary General, ITU); 

  4. In order to tackle the problem of ICT sector emissions, there are 3 different levels (scopes) to consider. Scope 1: if we perform a video conference, for example, we need a network supporting it, the computers, etc. — we have used energy to build and manufacture all that is needed for video-conferencing, energy to power the network and their operation. The question is how to minimise and/or to make the digital energy use more efficient. Scope 2: the second order effect is, for example, the avoidance of travelling, which would save some emissions. Scope 3: the higher order/rebound effects can come with changes in our lifestyle as a whole: the fact of not travelling for a conference means that we could have time for some other activities—if those activities are energy-intensive, there could be some rebound GHG emissions. To grapple with the first-level emissions, the assessment of emissions could be done ex ante, and for the second-level ones—mid-way, i.e. during an ICT service is implemented. In the third case, there will be more data available ex post, because we could check what really happened . The latter is the most robust assessment. Those who assess the ICT emissions should proceed holistically — i.e., at all 3 levels. (Jean Manuel Canet, CSR Department, Orange group). 
  1. “The ICT sector must ensure the environmentally sound design and deployment of digital technologies by minimising the ICT carbon footprint:
    1. Measurement of the benefits provided by ICT in carbon reduction is a struggle – initiatives such as EGDC (European Green Deal Coalition) can help
    2. Important to use standardised connectivity metrics/parameters related to carbon footprint in order to be used by stakeholders to compare and evaluate the benefit of different connectivity solutions in reducing the carbon footprint of industrial sectors
  2. An important path to realising carbon reduction is to increase awareness and information for the citizens to reduce energy and carbon footprint and at the same time increase the incentives for citizen to realise this reduction” (Damir Filipovic, CEO, Alliance for IoT and Edge Computing Innovation, AIOTI)

Interested in learning more about how we are building a world where sustainability is an integral part of technology and digital development through citizen engagement?

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