Digital Technologies Fast Track Climate Solutions
Digital technologies are transforming the way the world works and addresses climate change, from cutting emission across industries, to facilitating greener transport networks and mitigating impacts with early warning systems. As governments are looking for solutions that match the urgency and scale of the climate crisis—digital technologies are a key tool in this effort.
A World Bank report, Green Digital Transformation: How to Sustainably Close the Digital Divide and Harness Digital Tools for Climate Action, underscores how digital tools can boost sustainability across industries but must also reduce their own carbon footprint. For example, WEF estimates show that digital technologies could cut emissions by up to 20 percent by 2050 in the three highest-emitting sectors: energy, materials, and mobility. And two thirds of countries include technology as part of their national climate plans to help adapt to or mitigate the impacts of climate change.
“Digital technologies are helping reduce emissions, while at the same time the sector is focused on lowering its own carbon footprint,” said World Bank Vice President for Infrastructure Guangzhe Chen. “Applying digital technologies for climate action can help us reach our goals to reduce poverty on a livable planet.”
While technology-based solutions advance climate progress, they also generate 1.4 to 4 percent of global emissions, similar to that of the airline industry. To reach the targets in the Paris Agreement, emissions from the digital sector will need to be slashed by at least half by 2030. Leading digital companies are already adopting renewable energy sources and prioritizing energy-efficient operations, setting a positive example. Governments are implementing policies to transition the sector to cleaner energy sources.
Yet this green transformation is happening alongside a growing digital divide. Nearly three billion people are still offline, many in the low- and middle-income countries that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Bridging this gap and bringing these underserved communities online is crucial for economic development and resilience in adapting to climate change.
This report sets the stage for a series of events at COP28, where the Green Digital Action Track will be launched to encourage industry-wide commitments to address climate challenges, with a focus on putting inclusive digital solutions at the forefront.