Will ICT Save the Planet?
The GeSI SMARTer 2020 Report examines the potential of information and communication technology (ICT) enabled solutions in the power, transportation, agriculture and land use, buildings, manufacturing, and consumer and service sectors to fight climate change. The report determined that overall, ICT-enabled solutions offer the potential to reduce projected global GHG emissions in 2020 by 16.5% (9.1 Gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent), create 29.5 million jobs, and yield USD $1.9 trillion in gross energy and fuel savings. Even though ICT’s own footprint is projected to grow by 1.27 GtCO2 by 2020, it’s abatement potential is thus more than 7 times higher.
Potential ICT-enabled abatement by sector:
- Power: 2 GtCO2 (22%)
- Transportation: 1.9 GtCO2 (21%)
- Agriculture and Land Use: 1.6 GtCO2 (18%)
- Buildings: 1.6 GtCO2 (18%)
- Manufacture: 1.3 GtCO2 (13%)
- Consumer and Service: 0.7 GtCO2 (8%)
Greenpeace began looking to global IT companies in May of 2009 in order to identify which firms were leading efforts to realize this potential. This April, Greenpeace released the 6th edition of the Cool IT Leaderboard, which evaluates top IT companies on their leadership in their fight to stop climate change. The Leaderboard is scored from 0-100, as companies are evaluated in three key areas:
- Climate Solutions: Efforts to offer economy-wide technological climate solutions that contribute to global GHG reductions (40/100)
- IT Energy Impact: Initiatives to reduce their own global warming emissions (25/100)
- Political Advocacy: Active engagement in political advocacy and support for science-based climate and energy policies (35/100)
(For the full leaderboard, and a complete breakdown of the evaluation criteria, see the full report.)
Top Performers: Cisco and Google
With an overall 9-point gain from 2012 and improvements across each of the three evaluation areas, Cisco regained a top ranking in this year’s leaderboard, tieing Google at a total of 58 points. Below is a summary of the Cisco’s performance in the individual areas (complete scorecard):
2nd place in Climate Solutions (24/40):
- Developing case studies to demonstrate the tangible and quantifiable benefits of clean energy IT solutions.
- Helping develop methodologies for accurately measuring total energy savings associated with IT energy solutions.
- Signs of increasing investment in smart grid solutions (Google topped the investment category, having invested more than USD $1 billion in clean energy since 2010.)
1st place in IT Energy Impact (22/25):
- Announced an updated set of targets for GHG reductions, energy intensity goals, and renewable energy targets.
- Adopted performance-based goals for its facilities defined by the emissions factor of the local electricity, which will drive new growth away from coal-fired generation.
6th place in Political Advocacy (12/35):
- Improved its score in political advocacy leadership from the previous year, mostly from advocacy efforts in the EU and particularly in the UK.
- Greenpeace suggests that Cisco look to the leadership shown by Google in this final area for inspiration or ideas on how to strengthen its advocacy leadership at home in the U.S.
Check out Google’s complete scorecard here.
The Greenpeace report suggests that the IT sector continues to show slow but steady improvement in offering energy solutions, as companies are demonstrating that they are willing to make major investments to drive clean energy deployment. They also acknowledge the increasing numbers and efforts of companies to use of renewable energy to power their operations. However, the report claims that the IT sector overall still lacks the leadership in demanding the policy changes necessary for driving investment in renewable energy deployment and clean technology.
Leave your comment below, or reply to others.
Please note that this comment section is for thoughtful, on-topic discussions. Admin approval is required for all comments. Your comment may be edited if it contains grammatical errors. Low effort, self-promotional, or impolite comments will be deleted.
Read more from MeetingoftheMinds.org
Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
OurStreets origins are rooted in capturing latent sentiment on social media and converting it to standardized data. It all started in July 2018, when OurStreets co-founder, Daniel Schep, was inspired by the #bikeDC community tweeting photos of cars blocking bike lanes, and built the @HowsMyDrivingDC Twitter bot. The bot used license plate info to produce a screenshot of the vehicle’s outstanding citations from the DC DMV website.
Fast forward to March 2020, and D.C. Department of Public Works asking if we could repurpose OurStreets to crowdsource the availability of essential supplies during the COVID-19 crisis. Knowing how quickly we needed to move in order to be effective, we set out to make a new OurStreets functionality viable nationwide.
The best nature-based solutions on urban industrial lands are those that are part of a corporate citizenship or conservation strategy like DTE’s or Phillips66. By integrating efforts such as tree plantings, restorations, or pollinator gardens into a larger strategy, companies begin to mainstream biodiversity into their operations. When they crosswalk the effort to other CSR goals like employee engagement, community relations, and/or workforce development, like the CommuniTree initiative, the projects become more resilient.
Air quality in urban residential communities near industrial facilities will not be improved by nature alone. But nature can contribute to the solution, and while doing so, bring benefits including recreation, education, and an increased sense of community pride. As one tool to combat disparate societal outcomes, nature is accessible, affordable and has few, if any, downsides.
I spoke last week to Adrian Benepe, former commissioner for the NYC Parks Department and currently the Senior Vice President and Director of National Programs at The Trust for Public Land.
We discussed a lot of things – the increased use of parks in the era of COVID-19, the role parks have historically played – and currently play – in citizens’ first amendment right to free speech and protests, access & equity for underserved communities, the coming budget shortfalls and how they might play out in park systems.
I wanted to pull out the discussion we had about funding for parks and share Adrian’s thoughts with all of you, as I think it will be most timely and valuable as we move forward with new budgets and new realities.