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UK must align climate policy with digital policies to reach net-zero targets, new report finds

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UK must align climate policy with digital policies to reach net-zero targets, new report finds

New FarrPoint report highlights a lack of defined digital policies in the UK and across the G7, which means the block is missing an opportunity to remove as much as 20% of greenhouse gases from their collective emissions.

Digital policies are being overlooked by the world’s leading economies – including the UK – in their efforts to achieve net zero by 2050, according to a new report by independent connectivity consultants, FarrPoint.

The report, which was commissioned by a leading Canadian telecoms provider, (this will open in a new window)Telus, examined the digital policies that G7 members have, or are planning to introduce, as they work towards becoming net zero economies by 2050.

The UK has no specific digital policies to support climate action

FarrPoint’s research concluded that the UK, whilst leading the way in delivering net zero targets, has, along with other G7 members, no specific national digital policies designed to support climate action. The report suggests that the development and inclusion of digital policies within the government’s sustainability commitments presents a clear opportunity to create positive outcomes and accelerate the UK’s pathway to net zero.

C.20% of GHGe could be saved by digital solutions

Digital policy is increasingly viewed as a vital way for governments to work towards their net zero commitments. Research highlights how digital solutions, underpinned by the right levels of investment in the underlying infrastructure over which the solutions can be delivered, could bring down greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe) by an average of c.20%[1]. This would save 2.4 billion tonnes of GHGe across the G7 and around 150 million tonnes in the UK[2].

Recommendations

The report also highlights various recommendations that could be implemented to improve alignment between climate and digital policy. These include transitioning away from broadband and mobile network infrastructure competition (including improved mobile spectrum sharing), which would limit emissions from construction, allocate assets more efficiently, but also ensure that network and infrastructure owners can make a reasonable return on their investment.

Additionally, FarrPoint suggests that a combination of tax incentives should be introduced to encourage changes in working practices, governments should expand the delivery of public services digitally, and create the economic conditions to aid wider digital adoption within the economy by reducing financial barriers to entry. Also, the report recommends that all digital procurement and investment requiring public funding should consider projects with credible carbon reduction plans to reduce the ecological impact of infrastructure investment.

Finally, the report notes that the seven sectors identified and tracked by the (this will open in a new window)Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will see improvements in GHGe emissions reductions as a direct result of digital policies.

Digital services and solutions have been overlooked as a mechanism to achieve Net Zero

Andrew Muir, CEO, FarrPoint, said: “Like many countries, the UK’s efforts to combat climate change are developing well, but there is still much more work to be done if it is to achieve its net zero targets. 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 and must become embedded within each other. In creating this report, we provide a clear path forward to kick-start a conversation across the G7 nations on the critical role digital can play in reaching net zero.

“Not only does this make commercial sense and improve the lives of consumers but improved digital policy also can help drive emissions down, contributing to the UK reaching its 2030 goal of a 68% reduction of its 1990 emissions.”

The full report has been made available and can be dowloaded below:

Download the report

farrpoint report front cover

Report by Darren Kilburn, Matthew Izatt-Lawry and Dr Andrew Muir.

*Even though the report mainly talks about Canada, it is applicable to the UK and the rest of the G7. Get in touch if you have any questions about that

FarrPoint's Net Zero & Digital consultancy service

At FarrPoint, our research has led us to a simple conclusion - it is not possible to meet net-zero GHGe targets, grow the economy and care for the social wellbeing of the nation without digital. The UK has a target to achieve Net Zero by 2050, Scotland - by 2045. We understand it is not going to be straightforward and to facilitate this transition we have developed a portfolio of services that will help public and private sector organisations prepare for this change in the smartest way possible.

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References:

[1] Source: (this will open in a new window)SMARTer2030 report, GeSI, 2018

[2] Figure calculated by FarrPoint based on a 20% saving of the 1990 baseline emissions of the G7 member states.

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