By Mousume Roy, Contributing Writer, HCL Technologies Ltd. 

 

One million species of plants and animals are facing extinction and the livelihoods of millions of people are threatened as greenhouse gases (GHGs) continue to heat up the earth. We are facing unprecedented challenges but also great opportunities to create a more sustainable and equitable world for all. That is why the 2022 World Environment Day campaign #OnlyOneEarth calls for collective and transformative action to celebrate, protect and restore our planet.

The warnings from the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report are stark. Based on the predicted temperature rises, the Deloitte Center for Sustainable Progress (DCSP) reports that insufficient action on climate change could cost the global economy $178 trillion over the next 50 years. However, a study from the World Economic Forum found that ‘nature-positive’ solutions can create 395 million jobs by 2030 and generate $10.1 trillion in business opportunities. Technology has a huge role to play in the required transformation of socio-economic systems.

Climate action agenda in India

The recently concluded World Economic Forum inaugurated the Indian CEOs Alliance to boost India’s climate action and decarbonization initiatives. This initiative aims to bring government, businesses, and other key stakeholders together to achieve Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious “Panchamrit” pledge, which includes the country’s target to become net zero (the balance between the amount of GHGs produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere) by 2070, the WEF said in a statement.

“The alliance becomes part of our comprehensive nature and climate action agenda in India, which includes collaborative initiatives such as Trillion Trees, Moving India for rapid electric vehicle deployment, clean energy financing, Food Innovation Hubs, Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics, and Clean Skies for Tomorrow,”, added Borge Brende, President, World Economic Forum, mentioned.

HCL has also stepped up its climate commitments by signing The Climate Pledge, received validation from the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), and is formally a supporter of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

Santhosh Jayaram, Global Head of Sustainability, HCL Technologies explained: “These new commitments are part of our efforts to act responsibly and lead by action, sustainably offer our stakeholders maximum value as part of our pact and ensure we create impact through our actions and initiatives”.

For HCL, the Climate Pledge is a commitment to being net-zero carbon by 2040, ten years ahead of The Paris Agreement. As part of this pledge, all GHGs will be measured and reported, decarbonization strategies will be implemented and any additional emissions will be neutralized in line with this obligation. 

Technology – the net zero factor

The Industrial Revolution sped up productivity gains, helped humans build better infrastructure and improved the quality of life for millions of people. However, the price for the gains was largely driven by using fossil-based fuels to generate energy. The emission from these fuels is now destabilizing the global climate. It is time to redress the balance and restore the equilibrium of our global climate by reducing then eliminating the GHGs associated with fossil fuels. By leveraging the enabling power of technology and human innovation, we can develop renewable energy sources and nature-based solutions to deliver a better future for all.

Here’s how:

Renewable energy technology: Innovation in renewable energy such as hydropower, biofuel, wind turbines, and battery storage can lower costs and drive more energy-efficient operations. Harnessing renewably sourced energy more effectively should be a top priority for businesses, countries, and governments.

AI and machine learning: According to the Capgemini Research Institute, AI should improve power efficiency by 15% in the next three to five years. With the efficient use of data sensors, advanced analytics, learning algorithms, and sensing devices, AI has a greater potential to assess, predict, and mitigate the risk of climate change. For instance, AI helped create a flexible and autonomous electric grid, integrating more renewable energy in Norway.

Blockchain technologies: Blockchain can be leveraged to measure and monitor everything from carbon emissions to tracking down child labor in the supply chain. In its 100% Transparency – Sustainable Supply Chain Project, AB-InBev is using blockchain technology to secure full transparency and traceability in its supply chain of barley, from consumer back to the farms.

Cloud computing and data Science: The elastic computational abilities of cloud computing, data science, and blockchain helps compute gross carbon product (GCP) across all carbon-generating sources. These technologies shed light on data-based renewable consumption goals and carbon metrics helping businesses reduce their footprint. Moving to the cloud can drive energy reduction and CO2 emission reduction by leveraging the efforts of cloud providers. For instance,  Google is aiming to run on carbon-free energy 24/7 at all their data centers by 2030.

Smart grids: The smart grid technology market is projected to grow from $20 billion to $61 billion by 2023. Smart grids help reduce dependence on fossil fuels and waste by combining renewable energy sources with smart devices that communicate analytics and real-time data. Grid technologies provide usage data that enables continuous improvement and efficient energy use.

Holographic technology: The average U.S. household, comprising  2.53 people, owns 10.37 connected devices, according to Statista. Hologram technology and IoT-enabled tools can help by substituting and reducing non-recyclable materials.

Digital twins: Digital twins  or alternatives to eliminate the need to build physical prototypes. For example, an augmented reality application that provides a virtual real-car experience to potential customers can reduce a dealer's costs and improve conversion rates, while minimizing environmental impacts by curbing carbon emissions associated with test drives.

Time is of the essence

Technology-powered solutions, combined with widely used approaches to reduce carbon footprints, will maximize efficiency and help address the challenges of climate change in the race to net zero.

As said by Inger Andersen, the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, for World Environment Day 2022 “….because we are only one people and we have only one Earth. We have only one home. And that is worth standing up for."