On the verge of multiple crises
The current financial crisis has come at a time when the fossil fuel-based energy supply is dwindling – thus slowly pushing up energy prices. The current political environment is stimulating debate, fuelling the realisation of the need for change. Centuries of fossil fuel-based energy consumption has led to increased environmental pollution – not least it has lead to climate change and global warming, due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases (CO2 etc.) in the atmosphere.
The environmental crisis is perhaps the most long-term crisis, if we do not act now to mitigate it. Climate change threatens to completely change our planet, our societies and our economies. We need decisive action in the short-term, in order to avoid severe consequences – in order to avoid the real crisis of climate change.
At this point however, we need to handle other crises at the same time. We need to boost the economies, produce more energy and protect the environment/climate. Can we really do all this at the same time?
I believe it is possible and I believe that green growth and the Low-Carbon Society, is what we should aim for. Those countries that will benefit the most from this new era are those capable of creating wealth in an environmentally conscious manner. And the process of greening IT, is the first step in that direction – along with a more sustainable energy production and consumption, based on renewable energy technologies.
Throughout the past centuries our societies have evolved immensely – and human kind and society have moved fast and come far. Yet, society as we know it today is based on unsustainable consumption patterns, and as we are starting to realise the effects – we need to find new solutions.
We need to rethink society – and create a new consumption infrastructure, based on resource efficiency and sustainability – and green growth. Many developing countries are just starting to see the light today, and we cannot take away their right to develop their societies and reach higher living standards. We need to work together to enable these countries to develop without being dependent on fossil fuels. We are not talking about stopping growth – instead we should just make it green.
When it comes to the environmental crisis, IT is part of the problem, but more importantly it is part of the solution. The IT sector is part of the problem due to its massive consumption of energy in the form of electric power. The sector creates a huge demand for stable and cheap energy, which unfortunately feeds the unsustainable worldwide dependence on fossil fuels.
On a global level IT is responsible for 2 % of emission of greenhouse gases. However, the remaining 98% is seen as opportunity for IT to help solve the problem. IT can provide the technological fix we need to reduce a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions from other sectors of society.
The more IT we apply, the more electric power we need. Therefore, in order for IT to green society, we need to develop new clean power solutions based on renewable energy technologies. This makes clean development in the energy sector essential to support the wider implementation and dissemination of green IT solutions.
The role of the energy sector
I’m very interested in looking more into the energy sector, as I think it is vital to support green growth, cleaner development, creating new consumption patterns etc. I will be getting back soon with my ideas on this – in the mean time I’d be very interested to hear your ideas on the role of the energy sector.