Digital technologies can reduce emissions

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Digital technologies can reduce emissions

Wednesday, 01 March 2023 | Chandrika Behl

Digital technologies can reduce emissions

Use of cutting-edge digital technologies can help companies move towards sustainability, writes Chandrika Behl

The impacts of climate change are becoming more visible daily, putting pressure on nations to fulfil their commitments towards reducing carbon emissions. It is estimated that we need up to a 55% reduction in CO2 emissions to keep the goals of the Paris Agreement on track. At the same time, ‘sustainability’ has become synonymous with addressing global warming, with most countries exploring solutions that will help them achieve sustainable development without compromising the people's future. Today, a sustainable society must be socially responsible, focussing on environmental protection and maintaining an equilibrium between humans, natural resources, and economic growth. Creating a ‘Circular Economy’ by rewiring high-emitting sectors around efficiency, circularity, and sustainability has emerged as the magic mantra. And ‘Digital technologies can help accelerate this transformation.

An Accenture-World Economic Forum study revealed that energy, materials, and mobility were the three highest-emitting sectors (approx. 74%) in 2020. They also represent the sectors where digital technologies hold the highest potential to reduce emissions. According to the study, if digital technologies are scaled across these industries, it could deliver up to 20% of the 2050 reduction needed to hit the net-zero trajectories. These industries can immediately reduce emissions by 4-10% by quickly adopting digital technologies! Achieving sustainability is no longer the responsibility of the government alone. Most companies have set individual sustainability goals, partly to improve efficiencies and fulfil the demands of an increasingly alert consumer market.

Application of digital technologies to achieve sustainability goals

Most digital technologies like Big Data analytics, advanced AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing, Blockchain, Cloud, etc., offer applications that can help an organisation migrate to low-carbon systems. However, it is up to the management to identify the application suitable for their needs. Usually, companies appoint a Chief Information Officer (CIO) responsible for successfully integrating technologies to advance the organisation’s sustainability agenda. Today, companies have the choice of multiple sustainability management platforms that allow them to receive real-time information on how their plant, manufacturing facility, or offices are functioning. These platforms integrate the data sourcing and collection functions to generate analysis and accelerate the process of preparing accurate reports.

How are digital technologies helping companies?

It is well known that greater technology adoption has been the driving force behind Industry 4.0. Now, Disruptive innovations and next-generation solutions are delivering on the sustainability agenda of the companies. Businesses invest in digital software and solutions that seamlessly integrate into their frameworks and internal reporting structures. This ensures that data is available, standardised, and shareable across the value chain and helps in day-to-day functions such as moving raw materials up to the product stage, optimising routes, and enhancing efficiency. Companies are also prioritising digital inclusion to achieve workforce skill development. It helps them to prepare the existing and future workforce to quickly adapt to technological advancements in the unit and safely handle digital technologies. Forging partnerships with other businesses through real-time data and insights derived with the help of digital solutions, including the company’s sustainability agenda, is helping organisations venture into new and developed markets. Sustainability has emerged as an environmental, economic, and social driver, capable of transforming how businesses are done, governments function, and how people live. Digital technologies are at the forefront of helping achieve these goals and missions. With more businesses across industries exploring innovative and digital solutions to their everyday problems, technology will play a pivotal role in creating balanced economies. Digital solutions can help improve productivity and efficiency, achieve cost savings, reduce product waste, track progress across all business divisions, and analyse outcomes. Smart technologies and solutions thus have the potential to alter the entire value chain of businesses across industries.

(The writer is Managing Director, Exhibitions India Group)


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