Digitalization and sustainability go hand in hand. Digital infrastructures and technologies must become integral components of European climate and energy policy in order to fulfil the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the 2050 Paris Agreement.
From 30 November to 12 December this year, the 198 parties of the Framework Convention on Climate Change convened at the 28th UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai to decide on joint measures aimed at combatting the consequences of ongoing climate change. Digitalization was highlighted as an important lever for greater energy efficiency and sustainability. This is also an important opinion shared by many citizens in Germany, as shown by recent surveys conducted by the market and opinion research institute Civey on behalf of our eco Association.
According to the surveys, around 42 percent of Germans believe that digital technologies can help in tackling the climate crisis.* When it comes to implementing the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, respondents believe that digitalization has the greatest potential in the fields of sustainable industries and infrastructure (27.1 percent) and affordable and clean energy (21.5 percent). The surveys also indicate that digital technologies can contribute to goals such as creating more sustainable cities and communities (17.7 percent) and implementing climate protection measures (16.6 percent).**
At eco, we are also of the strong opinion that digitalization holds enormous potential for climate protection and can contribute to resource savings in almost all spheres of life and the economy. In the 2050 Paris Agreement, the international community has correctly set itself ambitious goals in the fight against climate change, with all available means being used to achieve them: in this regard, digitalization is part of the solution.
Accelerating digital transformation for present and future generations
In the recent eco surveys, the youngest age group stands out prominently: over half (53.3 percent) of 18-29 year-olds state that digital technologies and applications can help to tackle climate change. In other words, the generation that will be most affected by climate change believes that digitalization will play a significant role in shaping their future.
The Sustainable Development Goals were adopted to have a livable planet for future generations. To ensure that these goals can be met, high-performance digital infrastructures must be expanded, and digitalization projects must be implemented now. In my view, this includes the expansion of connected mobility and the establishment of Europe as a strong technology center for innovations such as AI. Such developments require planning and support from politicians. For example, regulatory requirements and conditions for providers of digital infrastructures and services must be designed in such a way that ‘Made in Europe’ innovations are still feasible in the future. This is how we achieve sustainable digitalization from and for Europe. We cannot afford to lag behind in digital transformation – too much is at stake for us and future generations.
eco sustainability study shows 30 percent CO2 savings by 2050 through digitalization
A recent eco study in cooperation with Arthur D. Little and the eco-founded Alliance for the Strengthening of Digital Infrastructures in Germany shows just how tremendous the savings potential of digital technologies, applications, and infrastructures actually can be. The study “Digital Transformation for More Sustainability” examines the effects of digitalization in the industrial, urban, and rural sectors and anticipates that, by 2050, emissions savings of 163 megatons of CO2 will be achieved through the consistent use of digital levers. In addition, CO2 emissions in the areas of data storage and transmission can be reduced by 104 megatons, meaning that up to 30 percent of the CO2 emissions forecast for Germany in 2050 can be avoided through digitalization.
Our eco Association is also committed to the promotion and visibility of sustainable technologies. The #JOINTHESOLUTION initiative showcases digital flagship projects that illustrate positive impact potential in terms of carbon footprint, resource efficiency, and sustainability goals.
* On behalf of eco, the opinion research company Civey surveyed 2,508 adult German citizens between 25.10.2023-26.10.2023. The statistical error of the overall results is 3.3 percent.
** On behalf of eco, the market and opinion research institute Civey surveyed 2,519 adult German citizens between 28.09.2023-29.09.2023. The statistical error of the overall results is 3.0 percent.
- Survey: “Do you believe that digital technologies/applications can help tackle climate change?”*
- Survey: “Which of the United Nations’ sustainability goals do you think digitalization is most likely to contribute to?”**
- Study: “Digital Transformation for More Sustainability”
Since January 2018, Alexander Rabe has been the Managing Director of eco – Association of the Internet Industry, the largest Internet industry association in Europe. He took over the management of eco’s Capital Office, including the division of Policy, Law and Regulations, in 2016. Prior to that, Rabe was CEO of the Gesellschaft für Informatik (GI) and CEO of German Informatik Akademie GmbH in Bonn.