November 26, 2021

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Debate: The IT industry - part of the solution or part of the problem?

Debate: The IT industry – part of the solution or part of the problem?

This discussion expresses the views of the author. Debate entries can be sent to [email protected]

Undoubtedly, the time ahead is crucial to reaching the 1.5-degree target set out in the Paris Agreement in 2015. As head of sustainability at a green technology company such as Schneider Electric, I was excited to learn about the measures Norwegian and foreign IT companies are preventing, Among others, getting rid of waste – and promoting sustainability – in their own industry, and how the world’s largest companies are developing solutions that will benefit the entire world.

So it was gratifying that during our week in Glasgow we witnessed several big and important actions proving that Norwegian and foreign IT players are using significant resources to achieve their sustainability goals.

Let’s take our own business first; At Schneider Electric, we naturally focus on data solutions because we are a supplier of computer equipment, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly data centers, data center infrastructure management solutions, and edge computing. Additionally, our automation solutions are fully digital and use cloud solutions to deliver real-time data from facilities.

Data management is essential to give managers and operating staff in all sectors the opportunity to implement measures. In addition to data collection, actual processing and visualization of data from facilities is fundamental to dealing with the climate crisis.

It has been a satisfying experience to see that IBM, like Schneider Electric, has concluded that the best solution to countering the increase in climate emissions is to create ecosystems of partners that share and use data. IBM has also committed to zero emissions by 2030. In addition to reducing energy consumption and increasing the use of renewable energy, it is investing heavily in research – with 10 percent of all revenue going to research on new materials.



Recycling in Norway

Energy efficiency and IT equipment recycling is fundamental to the sustainability context of the IT industry. In 2019, no less than 54 million tons of electronic trash In the world. Only 17 percent was recycled. One of the players working to solve this problem in this country and in Scandinavia is IT company Atea with their recycling program;

  • recycling program Goitloop It is Atea’s main measure to beat the increasing amount of e-litter. It can save just over a ton of CO2 equivalents on a customer using Goitloop in less than a year.
  • Atea also has «100% club». Here, members are measured by the number of units they give back. Today, a return rate of 40 percent is reported, while the global average is 17 percent.
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The biggest climate impact comes from the production of IT equipment particularly in the abundance of screens. Therefore, Atea’s call and system, is not to dispose of old IT equipment, but instead to bring it back to reuse an important measure.

One of the biggest challenges in going green is the ever-increasing use of the internet around the world, and all the energy it harnesses. Figures from Cisco (2020) showed that 66 percent of the world’s population (5.3 billion people) will be Internet users by 2023. Therefore, it is more important than ever that the biggest players realize their responsibilities and develop sustainable solutions for their systems and organization, as well as develop solutions that benefit the world. During Cop26 was pleased to see

  • Meta/Facebook’s sustainability focus places particular emphasis on water use – a resource that not all countries have equal access to. Therefore, water-efficient offices are part of their commitment to the climate. They are working towards becoming Climate Positive by 2030.
  • French multinational company Atos, which provides high-tech transaction and communication services, cloud services, big data and cybersecurity, has focused on the value of satellite data, which depicts things we can’t see through the overlapping data and maps of insight. This is data that can be used, among other things, to model floods, combat pollution and improve traffic flow.
  • Andrew Murray, Senior Director of Environment at Vodafone, announced that their company is working towards 100% renewable energy across the value chain by 2025. Vodafone is developing critical communications technology to make the future greener, and self-empowerment at scale, among other things. Other – driving cars. For agriculture, they work with digitization solutions that can provide important insights and data from crops, and for cities, they will play an important role in further developing smart solutions, among other things, for traffic management.
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Cop26’s impression is that the IT industry understands its climate responsibility, and that the IT industry and technology are a very big part of the solution. Because it has to be traded now. Collaboration is the number one priority, and progress is being made by sharing data with people to make them aware of challenges—while at the same time giving them more power to act.