Digital technologies can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20 per cent by 2050 in the three highest-emitting sectors — energy, mobility and materials, the World Economic Forum said on Tuesday.
As businesses and governments respond to global calls for action to tackle climate change, significant efforts must be put in place to achieve net zero, but a large gap remains between commitments and action, it said, announcing a new study conducted in collaboration with Accenture.
Estimates of current commitments indicate a projected emissions reduction of merely 7.5 per cent when a 55 per cent reduction is needed. Closing this gap will require high-emitting sectors to rethink efficiency, circularity and sustainability.
Energy, materials and mobility constitute the highest emission sectors, contributing 43 per cent, 26 per cent and 24 per cent respectively of total emissions in 2020.
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These industries can use four digital technologies to decarbonise their operations and value chains — foundational technologies such as big data analytics; decision-making technologies such as artificial intelligence/machine learning; enabling technologies such as cloud, 5G, blockchain and augmented reality; and sensing and control technologies such as internet of things, drones and automation, the WEF said.
According to the estimates, digital solutions can reduce emissions by up to 8 per cent in the energy sector by enhancing carbon-intensive processes, improving energy efficiency in buildings, and deploying and managing renewable energy.
In the materials sector, digital solutions can improve mining and upstream production and enhance efficiency and circularity of materials, reducing up to 7 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The mobility sector can reduce emissions by up to 5 per cent by supporting the transition from fossil fuel combustion to green molecules, improving supply chain efficiencies and optimising travel routes.
“Digital technologies and business models are readily available levers for companies to accelerate their climate and energy transitions,” said Manju George, Head of Platform Strategy, Digital Economy, World Economic Forum (WEF).
“Technology can bring transparency, efficiency and circularity to business processes and value chains. Shared learning and action by industry leaders and climate coalitions will be key to realizing the benefits of technology at scale while keeping its carbon footprint low,” George added.
The WEF is curating an inventory of lighthouse examples, companies that are leading the way in implementing digital technologies to reduce their carbon footprint and deliver economic growth to inspire more adoption and collaboration.