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A Roadmap to Reducing Carbon Emissions

This report, created in partnership with the World Government Summit, explores the actions that we can take today, in order to avoid the consequences of global warming in the future. In particular, the report outlines how data, AI, and an agile approach can help us reduce our carbon emissions.

Since the dawn of history, human’s ability to transform energy into heat, light, or motion has always been the main driver for progress and prosperity. Through innovation, humans never stopped looking for new ways to extract energy from nature, and this continuous quest has been always the starting point of a revolution that deeply changed society and businesses. In the last two hundred years, we have witnessed the most miraculous advances in human conditions, and most of the time those advances can be linked to new ways of producing energy.

Despite the fact that energy has always supported human prosperity, the way we are harvesting it is coming with a significant price. In fact, it took us more than one hundred years after the industrial revolution to notice the consequences of our actions. When the first computer models of global climate were developed in the 1960s, many scientists supported the idea that the rise in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would result in a warming climate, by the 1980s when the global temperature began rising sharply, more voices from the media and the public joined the scientists to raise the attention of policymakers to the size of the challenge ahead.

Climate change has become the main challenge that we face as a species in the twenty-first century. This challenge must be a concern for everyone; citizens, businesses, and policy-makers alike. The only way to overcome it is by combining efforts at all levels, through collaboration and innovation. In its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C (SR15) released in October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that meeting a 1.5°C target is still possible, but it requires “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”; Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050.

If history showed that energy played a major role in past industrial revolutions, the one we are witnessing in this 21st century is fundamentally different. Unlike its predecessors, the 4th Industrial Revolution is fueled by Data. However, achieving the full potential of digital technologies in fighting climate change requires tremendous and coordinated efforts from governments and businesses.

This paper explores the opportunities offered by digital technologies and the extensive use of data to foster collective efforts to reduce carbon emissions, and shows how data-driven policy-making based on digital technologies can set a realistic roadmap to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.