Ruwandi Perera calls on everyone to save our planet by using technology

It’s a brand-new year and the COVID-19 pandemic is hopefully behind us. Yet, the world still has to deal with much political instability, raging wars and economic uncertainty. However, it’s high time to prioritise climate change. What’s of great concern is that we may already be too late.

Global leaders are being continuously pushed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to invest in fighting the world’s climate crisis and reducing global temperatures. After all, nature is the link that connects everything – economies, food security and global stability.

Saving the world and adapting our lives to live in more climate friendly ways is what needs to be done; and what wars, politics and economics have unfortunately hindered.

Regrettably, even though we already have technological advancements to aid us in preserving the planet, we don’t seem to be using these much. Big data, AI, machine learning, digitalisation and a range of technological improvements are giving the world its best chance to fight and win the climate war. So why aren’t we using tech enough?

Technological innovation is needed very fast and in large quantities – if we are to generate clean energy and make our supply chains more sustainable while protecting the global populace from climate shocks such as floods, earthquakes, melting ice caps and so on.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), digital technology can help reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2050 across three main sectors – energy, materials and mobility. It has been found that by using available digital technologies, these sectors combined can reduce emissions by four to 10 percent by 2030. Investing in digital partnerships and talent, and transparency, is the key to success.

A simple example from the mobility sector is the use of sensing technologies such as IoT, and imaging and geolocation, to collect real-time data transparently to make environmentally-friendly decisions for route optimisation.

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) platforms are becoming planning tools to give customers climate-friendly mobility options such as e-bikes. If scaled globally, MaaS could replace individual private car use and drastically reduce emission levels.

Regardless of which sector uses them, digital technologies augment human intelligence to enable smarter and transparent decision making. This ultimately results in physical processes being more sustainable and planet friendly.

Inclusion is another advantage of digital technology solutions. Any person or entity can make use of digital technologies for innovation irrespective of their investment. This has paved the way for organisations of varying size to be established and some of these may scale globally.

There are many climate-related tech startups that are creating simple, digitally enabled solutions. Some of these are intangible and tech driven whilst others are tangi­ble and process driven.

For instance, Patch is an enterprise that offers an application programming interface (API) solution to embed carbon footprint estimation directly into a business’ products and services. This helps businesses make sustainable products and reach their climate goals.

Similarly, Open Forest Protocol helps the funding of forestation and conservation by providing organisations with an open platform to monitor, verify and fund projects transparently using blockchain technology.

Carbfix helps capture CO2 and convert it to stone underground in less than two years. Stones, like trees, are known to store large quantities of carbon naturally, and Carbfix imitates and accelerates this process. Carbon dioxide is captured, dissolved in water and made to interact with rock formations to create minerals that safely and permanently store carbon underground.

Every action is interconnected in the mission to save the world; and according to the UNDP, artificial intelligence and blockchain help combat climate change, leaving no one behind.

Creating holistically integrated ecosystems including governments, corporates, international watchdogs and communities is the key to bringing about sustainability across economic, social, political and ecological environments.

Digital technologies need smarter thinking and passionate action to be globally scalable. Every little bit counts – from saying ‘yes’ to technologies that reduce reliance on scarce physical resources to using digital monitors to keep your meat consumption in check.

Perhaps 2023 is the year we make tech work for the planet? There is always hope…