Following COP22, which saw the adoption of a work program to successfully apply the Paris Agreement on climate change, several states, including France, came together in the “2050 Pathways” coalition to reach zero net emissions by 2050. More than 200 companies, including Atos, have also decided to get in line with the “two degrees” pathway by signing up to the initiative Science Based Targets. Whatever their strategic plan, one thing is certain: countries, cities, and companies will be relying on data and digitalization to try to prevent global warming.

Data, an incomparable source of knowledge and information about the Earth

By 2020, we will generate the historic threshold of 40 zettabytes, 40 thousand billion billions of data in the world – more than the number of grains of sand on the planet… This stock of data, brought about by the explosion of the Internet of Things (25 billion connected devices by 2020), is an incomparable source of knowledge and information. Within reach of everyone on the open innovation model, it will help us to identify and measure the impact of climate change: the melting of glaciers, changes to biodiversity, migration flows, pollution, etc. The project SparkIndata, which brings together a consortium led by Atos, is thus consolidating information from observations of the Earth with geographic, oceanographic, and scientific data to make it available to multiple players, allowing them to offer new services and create new uses.

Moving towards more simple and more efficient economic models

Digitalization is also one of the springboards for the circular economy. Information generated by connected devices is a source of frugal innovation and promotes efficient use of raw materials. The traceability of resources (location, state, and availability of products and materials) and the extension of their service life involves relying on a network of smart devices that provide the necessary visibility to adapt uses and control flows.

The sharing economy is also one of the pillars of environmental solutions. It relies on the existence of collaborative platforms to share an item or a service (such as BlaBlaCar or Airbnb), thus limiting the pressure on resources and the negative externalities linked to their production. “On demand” access to transactional platforms based on flexible, solid, and secure cloud technologies is essential.

Blockchain is just one of the future technologies to consider. Based on a distributed, secure, and decentralized infrastructure, Blockchain is already accelerating the energy transition. Combined with micro grids that enable the construction of autonomous energy communities, they facilitate the creation of the local “peer-to-peer” markets needed to develop renewable energies.

From agriculture to transport, all sectors benefit from digitalization

By 2050, the world’s population will be approaching 10 billion. Against a backdrop of increasingly scarce resources, food security will become a major issue. To increase world production by 70%, we need connected agriculture that is more sparing with water and inputs, while emitting less CO2. The information capital (weather, soil moisture, mineral wealth, maturity of plants, etc.) transmitted by onboard and mobile technologies (sensors, drones) will transform jobs in the food production chain.

Smart mobility is a crucial lever for handling the climate issues linked to transport, a sector that produces 25% of the world emissions of CO2. Connected working environments, electric vehicles, and driverless cars are among the low-carbon technological solutions. Driverless cars alone would enable us to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 60%. It is therefore vital to encourage this industry of the future.

Finally, digital technologies enable the transparency needed to generate confidence in and implementation of climate commitments. The reliability of the carbon market, the traceability of national performances, or the monitoring of objectives to reduce greenhouse gases have to rely on robust and highly secure digital infrastructures and solutions.

Could digital transformation save the world?

The data economy is already showing its capacity to handle world issues and reinvent business models, as well as everyday practices, as it does within companies. This is one of the reasons that I launched the Zero EmailTM plan back in 2011 to combat what I referred to as “information pollution.” Sending fewer emails also results, indirectly, in less energy being consumed in the data centers that store and process the emails. This is one example among many from Atos’ “Ambition Zero Carbon” program. While digitalization won’t save the world single-handedly, it will be part of the imagined innovative system to slow down and adapt to the effects of climate disruption.