No time like the present: Let’s seize the opportunity to unlock ICT opportunities on climate action

Posted by Gabrielle Ginér on 21st November 2016

Much hope has been pinned on global leaders attending this year’s COP22 Climate Change Conference in Marrakech.  The theme is a simple one: action. The historic agreement made in Paris last year needs to be matched with deeds, from governments and business alike. The pressure is on to show leadership. 

At BT, we have published a study showing the role ICT could play in meeting the UK’s forthcoming carbon budgets. In tandem, and equally important, ICT can support economic growth by driving the low carbon economy.

The opportunities ICT presents to reduce emissions and generate savings are too great to ignore, whether it’s by reviewing how and where colleagues meet and enabling more people to work from home or introducing autonomous agents that manage the temperature of our buildings, to how servers are used and making better use of the cloud.  So if COP22 is about demonstrating that actions speak louder than words, surely there can be no better time for us to recognize that ICT technologies are some of the most powerful tools the world can use to work and act together?  

If action and implementation are the spirit of COP22, then collaboration is its watchword.  Collaboration is key to maintaining the momentum and political will which enabled last year’s global agreement. At BT, we’ve seen how working with government, NGOs, other corporates and key stakeholders unlocks new, innovative solutions, whether it’s launching the BT Better Future Supplier Forum in 2012, our initiative to share best practice on sustainability, such as through product design and the circular economy, or being one of the first members of RE100, a group of forward thinking companies committed to 100 per cent renewable electricity which in turn drives the global market for clean energy.  

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Business, by its nature, eliminates boundaries of geography and politics. Yet, there is one collaboration for businesses that is more important than any other. ICT holds the key for some huge carbon efficiencies to be realized across all sectors, from agriculture to manufacturing, and health to logistics. But any company is just one business in a globe of many, and that is why it is crucial that we work together to ensure that the potential of ICT and smart technologies is understood.  

The conversations held at COP21 last year, and the role played by businesses in delivering a successful outcome, showed that leading companies are keen to work with governments around the world in order to find solutions to tackle climate change. With COP22 having fleshed out more of the detail that will underpin the Paris Agreement, there is positive determination to share knowledge and a seemingly endless source of climate innovations and learnings - it’s time for companies and governments to prove that they are just as willing to put these solutions into action. 

Gabrielle Ginér is Head of Sustainable Business Policy at BT.