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Digital transformation is critical to fast-tracking the energy transition and cutting industry emissions by 2030

Digital transformation is critical to fast-tracking the energy transition and cutting industry emissions by 2030


Since 1994, the United Nations (UN) has brought together representatives from nearly 200 countries to negotiate collective action on reducing global emissions. This annual convening, known as the Conference of the Parties or COP, inevitably attracts criticism for the competing national agendas often on display and the fierce wordsmithing debates that take place as part of finalizing a multilateral agreement by the end of the two-week program.

COP28 provides a crucial accountability mechanism for national governments and has become a catalyst for radical collaboration across sectors. The process of building common ground, by bringing together participants from the public, private and third sectors, is especially important for segments of the global economy that are hard to decarbonize, such as heavy industry.

COP28, which will take place next week in Dubai, marks the end of the first Global Stocktake. This is a comprehensive review of where we stand on climate action and progress towards the objectives of the Paris Agreement, that is led by the UN. Under current national climate commitments, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2030 will be 9% above the 2010 base year.

It is clear we need to achieve a sustainable transition faster. With the window for meaningful change closing, solutions that drive impact at scale, are available today and have widespread stakeholder support. They are critical to getting us back on track.

Industry currently contributes 32% of the world’s CO2 emissions and over 73% of greenhouse gases come from energy. We must more rapidly digitalize these sectors to improve their efficiency and turbo boost the development and deployment of renewable energy and future fuels.

We already have the tools to hand

Together with regulatory action and market-based solutions such as carbon pricing and energy efficiency incentives, digital technology plays an essential role in uniting stakeholders, spurring action and delivering climate goals.

The World Economic Forum estimates that digital technologies at scale in hard-to-abate sectors such as energy, mobility and materials, could reduce emissions by as much 20% by 2050. Digital technologies are our best means of saving the planet.

They have already proven their worth on numerous fronts, from improving energy efficiency and minimizing waste to cutting carbon emissions at source and converting harmful GHG gases into high-value commodities. Documented gains include 10% higher profitability, 3X return on investment and up to 20% higher sustainability performance.

But as satisfying as these achievements are, there is room to build on them. Now it’s time for businesses to break down silos and team up for climate action. With its Unite. Act. Deliver. theme, COP28 will reinforce this message.

Joint action delivers win-win outcomes for every company involved, and for the planet. Digitalization and the incoming tech tsunami – from artificial intelligence to living digital twins – are the most effective way for industrial players to achieve these outcomes.

Connected digital insight enables industries to deliver a decarbonized future

  • Digital technology supports unified collaboration for both internal and external teams, across departments and even across borders. It can foster real-time information exchange, enabling collaborative research and development, optimizing supply chains, and leveraging data analytics for sustainable decision-making.

Pimpri Chinchwad Smart City (PCMC) in Pune, India brought together more than 4,600 individual municipal systems and applications – including water, waste management, and traffic – into a single unified operations center to create a data-driven approach to service delivery in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. As a result, PCMC reduced pollution and traffic congestion, cut water losses, and expects to lower energy use by up to 22%.

  • Acting together to achieve common goals similarly becomes easier with a single digital source of truth. Ecosystem players – whether distributed teams, developers, partners or technology vendors – can leverage hyperconnected platforms to work together, promoting efficiency across the value chain for mutual benefit.

When global food and beverage leader Danone implemented a manufacturing execution system across four distributed specialized nutrition sites around Indonesia, teams from shopfloor to the boardroom were able to access production volumes and other data in real time. As a result, higher quality, fully traceable products can now be produced, factory performance is up and waste is down, contributing to Danone’s sustainability goals.

  • Delivering lower-carbon outcomes is already a reality for industrial players, thanks to the use of digital technologies. In many cases, industrial organizations are leveraging digital technology to drive measurable emission reductions, reduce waste and improve circularity, including in hard-to-abate sectors.

In the field of solar energy, California-based consulting firm ZGlobal and energy provider Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) have built a data-sharing community in the cloud to securely integrate real-time and historical data on energy pricing and availability and likely demand trends. The combined platform has improved data transparency, collaboration and trust among multiple organizations, while saving stakeholders thousands of dollars—all while supporting California’s transition to clean energy.

Climate success and a sustainable economy are within our grasp

As these examples show, digital technology can support our climate goals – today.

Just increasing digital investments by 2% will cut operational emissions by 76% and CAPEX emissions by 17%, according to data from McDermott and Schneider Electric.

COP28 will serve as a vital catalyst for collaboration towards delivering on our climate goals. We must seize the moment to go beyond discussions and enact action plans and build new partnerships to create the livable future we want. By transforming industrial production into digital insights, companies can boost efficiency, resilience, and sustainable impact, and realize their boldest aspirations for growth and climate action.


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