COP 27: How Can ICT Help Us Mitigate and Adapt to Climate Change?

Dec 9, 2022 11:00 AM ET

Originally published by Ericsson

This must be a decade of action, yet many experts warn that we are heading in the wrong direction. On the eve of COP 27, we lay down the critical role of ICT and public-private partnerships in helping our world mitigate, adapt to and build resilience against climate catastrophe

More and more, I think the questions we need to ask ourselves are no longer just ‘what is climate change?’, and ‘why should we care?’. But now, the questions become even harder: what concrete solutions can we use to deal with it?

On the eve of the COP 27 summit, I find my mind going back to last year’s event that ended on a bit of a sour note. In a first for a COP, a plan to reduce coal-fired power generation had been agreed, but objections from India and China led to the text being weakened from an agreement to “phase out” coal, to a commitment to a “phasedown of unabated coal.”

Since last year’s COP26, it feels like there has just been a barrage of bad news. Many reports, from many organizations, have highlighted that we are heading in the wrong direction.

Greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise. Fossil fuel emission rates are now above pre-pandemic levels. Catastrophic weather has had devasting effects across the globe, particularly in Pakistan where massive flooding has left over 2.1 million people homeless.

Now, more than ever, we need to spend time on coming together to talk about specific solutions that businesses and society can contribute to climate action.

At COP27, we want to bring all kinds of solutions to the table—from nature-based solutions to energy solutions. That is why we are excited to announce the 6th Exponential Climate Action Summit, hosted by Ericsson alongside our partners, the Exponential Roadmap Initiative, We Don’t Have Time and UNDP.

Hosted in Nature Zone, close to the COP negotiations and action, we will gather thought leaders from business and society to tackle the big issues we have in front on us when it comes to climate mitigation, adaption and resilience.

What do we mean by climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience?

Mitigation refers to efforts to reduce or prevent emission of greenhouse gases. This is basically a focus on slowing the rate of global warming.

Adaptation refers to humans adapting to life in a changing climate and adjusting to the actual or expected future climate.

Resilience is a measure of an area’s ability to deal with the effects of climate change and ‘bounce back’ or recover.

To think of it in real terms using the example of catastrophic weather: mitigation works to minimise climate change, so we don’t get increasingly severe storms, adaptation helps prepare for the more severe storms which we are already beginning to experience, and resilience helps us bounce back more quickly following these storms.

You could think of these as the three pillars of climate action—and technology can help with all three.

For mitigation, the research is clear: ICT solutions can enable a reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions by up to 15 percent by 2030, while being responsible for only 1.4 percent of the global carbon footprint. With new emerging technologies like 5G, AI and IoT we can likely achieve even more reductions, if we implement them correctly.

Technology can help with adaptation as well. One of the most visible consequences of a warming world is an increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events—from wildfires to flooding and hurricanes. In fact, there has been increase catastrophic weather over the last several years—but the death toll has not increased in the same way.

In fact, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the number of disasters has increased by a factor of five over the 50-year period, driven by climate change.

Yet despite these growing risks, around the world, disasters in general are becoming less deadly. According to the WMO, the number of disaster-related deaths has fallen by two-thirds. One reason for that is the increased monitoring and alert systems that are possible with ICT. For example, just this summer we teamed up with China Mobile Zhejiang and other partners to deploy 5G technology in public-safety-focused natural disaster management. The solution spans early-warning analysis, natural disaster monitoring, command and dispatch, and post-disaster assessment, focusing the region’s vulnerability to large-scale natural disasters and flash floods during the increasingly severe wet season.

And then there’s resilience. Even as we work to avert the worst possible impacts of climate change, we must become more resilient to those impacts that are now unavoidable.

One example is our award-winning Connected Mangroves project. By planting mangrove saplings with connected sensors, we have been able to have a full reforestation of the important mangrove forests in communities in the Philippines and Malaysia. These forests are one of Earth’s most natural protectors against the impacts of climate change, particularly as they protect the local communities from catastrophic weather like typhoons and flooding, as well as protecting ecosystems vital for fisheries. By helping their reforestation, we help the local communities guard their homes and their livelihoods.

I’m looking forward to hearing about more solutions at COP27. We need to stay positive and show the world that it is possible, otherwise we will not be able to make it. And we need to make it. After all, this is the decade of action; it’s more important than ever to work side-by-side with governments to scale up public-private efforts in the drive to Net Zero emissions globally.

Learn more

Blog post: ICT is a solutions sector

Blog post: Are you ready to change the way you think about climate action?

Blog post: Connected mangroves show how technology can scale nature-based solutions

Report: A quick guide to your digital carbon footprint

Ericsson’s commitment to sustainability and corporate responsibility

MIT Technology Review Insights whitepaper: Decarbonizing industries with connectivity & 5G