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After COP22, what now? Let’s seize the opportunity to unlock ICT opportunities on climate action

Gabrielle Giner | November 24, 2016

Much hope has been pinned on global leaders attending this year’s COP22 Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh.  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. 

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.

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.  

That is why GeSI and the government of Morocco launched the SMARTer2030 Action Coalition in Marrakesh. Together with other partners from the ICT industry, the Coalition has as mission to realize the vision laid out in the GeSI SMARTer2030 report, the Paris Agreement, and the Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs) through concrete actionable steps at the ICT industry level, business sector level, public policy level, and through public awareness, education, and mobilization.

The Coalition pursues two main objectives: first, to ensure that the world’s growing use of ICT does not exacerbate carbon emissions, and second to leverage the enabling potential of ICT to reduce CO2 emissions in a broad range of industry sectors starting with energy efficiency in buildings and mobility.

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 and with the launch of the SMARTer2030 Action Coalition, there is positive determination to share knowledge and a seemingly endless source of climate innovations and learnings - it’s time for companies, governments and stakeholders to prove that they are just as willing to put these solutions into action. 

Gabrielle Ginér is Head of Sustainable Business Policy at BT and the Chair of the GeSI Climate Change Committee. This blog post originally appeared here.

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