27 Oct 2021

Digital can cut a fifth of carbon emissions by 2030. Here’s how.

Technologies like artificial intelligence, data analytics and smart grids are helping decarbonise our traditional sectors, while creating sustainable jobs and economic growth.

DIGITALEUROPE’s new report “Digital Action = Climate Action” shows how through 22 case studies from its members, and outlines eight recommendations for EU policymakers to accelerate this potential.

Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl, Director-General of DIGITALEUROPE, said:

“Too often the twin transitions – green and digital – are seen separately. But the truth is that there will be no Green Deal without digital.

Digital technologies can cut 20% of global CO2 emissions by 2030. If we are serious about reaching our climate goals, governments, businesses and citizens need to think digital.

Smart cities in Austria are cutting emissions in residential buildings by 70%. Artificial intelligence is increasing smart grid capacity by 6% in Belgium. Data analytics is helping the Port of Rotterdam cutting its emissions in half by 2030.

To realise this green potential, digital technologies need investment and legislation that encourages them to flourish. Europe therefore needs to step up its efforts in boosting connectivity, increasing funding in research and development, and investing in skills and education.”

8 ideas to accelerate the twin transition

  1. Set ambitious KPIs to measure Europe’s twin transition.

The EU should set concrete targets, both horizontal and sector-specific, similar to those in the Digital Decade post-COVID strategy, and measure the uptake of digital technologies to support our climate goals.

  1. Promote data cooperation to enhance access to and use of sustainability data.

Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) rely on access to high-quality and interoperable data. The EU’s plan for common European data spaces is a unique opportunity to promote the pooling of sustainability data.

  1. Boost connectivity and infrastructure.

Again, strategic digital solutions like AI and IoT rely on high speed and high-quality connectivity. The EU and Member States should increase funding for available and affordable high-quality network infrastructure, such as fibre and 5G, and speed up rollout.

  1. Develop international standards for measuring digital’s ability to reduce emissions.

There are no methodologies and international standards for how to measure the ability for ICT solutions to reduce emissions across other sectors. To boost investment and deployment in these digital and green solutions, we need consistent and comparable assessment methods.

  1. Increase access to funding for R&D and innovation spending in green technologies.

Both EU and national funding programmes should allocate greater resources to help boost clean tech initiatives, notably from start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and to create public-private partnerships among industry and academia to fuel technological innovation.

  1. Launch a continent-wide drive for green tech skills.

The EU should use its full toolbox of investments and policy to make sure citizens have the skills they need to thrive in a digital and green economy, and that industry has the digital talent it needs to take bold climate action.

  1. Strengthen the link between digital and green policies.

The EU needs to recognise the complementary nature of policy interventions and embed digital transformation into sectoral strategies such as the Renovation Wave, the Common Agricultural Policy, and the “Fit for 55” package, to name just a few.

  1. Create sector-specific action plans to facilitate the uptake of digital technologies across Europe’s most energy intensive sectors.

The horizontal actions above should be reinforced by sector-specific action plans at EU and national levels, with digital targets, key technologies, research and skills needed, and assessment of regulations and public procurement.

Read the full report

Digital action = Climate action: 8 ideas to accelerate the twin transition

Download the full report here
Chris Ruff
Director for Political Outreach & Communications
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