As ESG target dates draw closer, yet digital innovation continues at a rapid rate, finding the balance between technological evolution and climate mitigation becomes a growing challenge. For the energy sector, which is facing a raft of process and operational changes to meet its targets, the use of tech and big data produces its own carbon cost that has remained invisible to many.
Eric Zie, CEO and Founder of Earthshot Prize-nominated GoCodeGreen, a ClimateTech company with a mission to help decarbonize the digital world, discusses the opportunity for the energy sector to take a leadership position in technological sustainability.
Although digital growth has been exponential over the last three decades, we now find ourselves living in a world of constant innovation. We hear news almost daily of another groundbreaking, life-changing, or mass-adopted technology – from artificial intelligence to smart cities to another social media platform.
The social, educational, health, and business value of technological and digital solutions is unquestionable. For the energy sector, digital growth has made significant improvements across the entire supply chain. From exploration, extraction, transportation and delivery, to end-user technologies like home smart meters, the entire industry has benefited from technological change. Operations are being optimized and health and safety is improving, resulting in cost savings and efficiencies across businesses. Therefore, it is vital our path of further innovation continues.
However, this growth has a carbon cost that has remained invisible to most of us. It is now estimated that the information and communication technology (ICT) sector accounts for four-to-six percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and by 2030, it is predicted to consume over 20 percent of global energy. An often-used comparison to put this into perspective is that all the data centers now operating globally have the same carbon impact as the aviation industry.
For the energy industry, decarbonization is one of the biggest challenges it will ever face, with transitions to wind and solar energy, infrastructure investment to facilitate hydrogen, and technology to reduce the impact of existing processes. Contending with all of this, the impact of data centers and tech may not seem like a priority. But understanding that these significant emissions can be reduced with the support of specific tech decarbonization tools creates a powerful opportunity for the sector to make strides towards its sustainability targets.
Rather than thinking solely about the negative results of digital growth, we’re looking for solutions to balance evolution and the protection of our planet.
The energy sector’s potential to decarbonize tech
Energy businesses are already transforming their practices and processes to meet looming ESG targets, so now is the perfect opportunity to harness this time of change and provide solutions that support an increased reliance on digital without expanding their carbon footprint.
With the challenging journey energy companies are facing, any and all reductions are an important part of the process. While digital optimization and cleantech may only be a small part of the process shifts this sector is implementing to reduce overall emissions, a few relatively minor changes can have a real, tangible impact and create measurable change.
There are already options available to businesses, like GoCodeGreen, which is the world’s first product lifecycle-based measurement and decisioning platform. Nominated for the 2023 Earthshot Prize in the ‘Fix our Climate’ category, it has built an independent measurement tool that helps businesses understand and take action to reduce the carbon impact of the digital products and services they are designing, building, and operating. This helps companies ensure there is no greenwashing as they decarbonize their technology and IT.
There are also sustainable technology options that help to mitigate emissions by using renewable resources or creating environmentally friendly efficiencies. Importantly, there are also behavioural changes that organizations can implement, like minimizing unnecessary downloads or surplus emails, that can significantly reduce a company’s footprint.
Now is the time to embrace the opportunity to make an even better, faster, more efficient, and planet-friendly version of the digital scape within the energy sector. Working together, we have the chance and a responsibility to change the future of the digital world and our planet.
GoCodeGreen is a world leading, independent ClimateTech company focused on measuring and identifying actions to reduce the carbon and environmental impact of digital products and services. Its mission is to help decarbonize the digital world in which we all now live. Earthshot Prize-nominated and a Certified B Corporation, GoGodeGreen is also partnered with the ITU, the United Nations specialized agency for Information and Communication Technology.