Leading Canadian telecommunications provider and global technology company, TELUS, wished to investigate the potential impact digital infrastructure will have on emissions policy from an international perspective, and how that relates to developments in Canada. They enlisted the help of FarrPoint who undertook an independent study and produced an extensive report of their findings and recommendations.
Adopting digital services and solutions will be vital for global action on climate change. Many of the major global economies have signed up to a net zero greenhouse gas emission (GHGe) target by no later than 2050. Over the next 30 years the balance between commerce, social (including health services) and climate impacts will be met by the improving capabilities of digital solutions.
As an organisation, TELUS has a range of environmental policies and targets to achieve and although the impact of digital infrastructure which TELUS and other operators deliver comes at a GHGe cost, it also provides an opportunity for significant benefits that are often outside the control of the company and not always visible to it or policymakers
TELUS wanted a clear understanding of the potential impact digital infrastructure will have on emissions policy and appointed FarrPoint, who undertook an independent study and produced an extensive report of their findings and recommendations.
FarrPoint’s research focused on available literature and country-specific activities centred on the convergence of digital strategies, policies and deliverables with climate action and net zero specifically. The focus was on gathering evidence for the performance metrics included in the framework and investigating the position in Canada using the same approach, with any supplementary sources from TELUS.
The report set out the results of the comparative analysis exercise and provided clear recommendations, highlighting best practices where such evidence existed, and opportunities to improve the relative position in Canada.
(this will open in a new window)The report, published on 1st June 2022, examined the digital policies that G7 economies had or were planning to introduce as they work towards becoming net zero by 2050.
FarrPoint’s research concluded that Canada, like the rest of the G7, had no specific national digital policies designed to support climate action and the delivery of net zero targets. The report suggested that the inclusion of digital policies presented a clear opportunity to create positive outcomes and for Canada to lead the world in digitally enabled climate action.
Digital policy is increasingly viewed as a vital way for governments to work towards their net zero commitments, and research highlights how digital solutions could bring down global GHGe emissions by up to 20% – saving up to 120 megatonnes per year.
Download the report
The report’s recommendations included transitioning away from promoting broadband and cellular network infrastructure competition (including improved cellular spectrum sharing) as well as discouraging overbuild (i.e. building more than one network of the same type in the same locality), which would limit emissions from construction, allocate assets more efficiently, and ensure that network and infrastructure owners can make a return on their investment.
In addition, FarrPoint suggested that a combination of tax incentives should be introduced to encourage changes in working practices, such as prioritising remote working, as well as promoting the delivery of public services digitally and aiding the wider digital adoption within the economy by reducing financial barriers to entry. Lastly, the report recommended that all digital procurement and investment requiring public funding should prioritise projects with credible carbon reduction plans to reduce the ecological impact of infrastructure investment.
Andrew Muir, CEO, FarrPoint, said:
Like many countries, Canada’s efforts to combat climate change are developing, but there is still much more work to be done if it is to achieve net zero commitments. Across the world, digital services and solutions have been overlooked as a mechanism to achieve our collective environmental goals. It is vital that governments, organisations and consumers alike recognise that digital policy is climate policy. In creating this report, we have been able to provide a clear path forward to kick-start a conversation in Canada on the crucial role digital can play in reaching net zero.
No other developed economy in the world is leading in this area and there is a real opportunity to showcase Canada’s commitment to a greener future. Not only does this make commercial sense and improve the lives of consumers but improved digital policy also can help drive emissions down to reach its 2030 goal of a reduction of 40-45% of its 2005 emissions, which would be a big step on the journey towards net zero.
Ultimately, the key conclusion of this study is that digital policy must become embedded in Canada’s climate policy, if it is to reach net zero by 2050.
If you have any questions about the report or our net zero and digital consultancy services, please get in touch.
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