Wednesday, 26 March 2008

From Fossil to Future in Barcelona

At Technology@Work in Barcelona we took the opportunity to release the second of our think-papers this year about the role of ICT and climate change. From Fossil to Future with innovative ICT solutions

The main purpose is to move the discussion from incremental reduction within current sectors to a discussion about transformative changes with the help of ICT. Maybe there is hope that the message will spread. In FT and Wired there are however no signs, as far as I have seen, that this perspective is getting any attention.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Bangalore the future of IT- but not connected today

An intensive week in Bangalore with sustainable ICT as a theme. Meetings with leading ICT companies, both Indian and foreign, but also video conferences, Skype, Webex and phone meetings with the rest of the world. Still moving from one place to another in Bangalore is done in the traditional way... ;)

To discuss climate policy with a
political party in Europe (Moderaterna in Sweden on the picture), to have a lecture for business students in the US, Skype with China about art for an upcoming book about Chinese Concepts, webex meeting with Sida in Sweden, phone meeting with Gartner, Booz Allen Hamilton, HP, Verizon, etc was not without problems.

The technology is obviously here in Bangalore, but the infrastructure needs improvements before it can become mainstream. The only thing I know that works like a clock are the really expensive equipment that Cisco and HP have. To travel as I do makes it important to stay connected, but when not even the mobile phone is working it is more than a little frustrating, especially as a lot of my work right not focus on the potential of ICT to reduce CO2 emissions, not the least in transportation…

As usual it is hard not to have very mixed feelings after a trip to India. On the one hand there are so many interesting initiatives happenings, and I hope to be able to talk about some of them in the near future... Infrastructure, ICT and innovation are the three i’s that I hope my future visits to Bangalore will focus on. On the other hand I read about initiative that will try to turn coal into oil as a way to reduce the dependence of oil, experience companies that want to do something, but seem more focused on PR than real results.

Over all I’m still positive and it is very good to see that the positive opportunities that collaboration between China and India can result in is beginning to be a mainstream issue. Two new book out on the Indian market are:

Chindia Rising - How China and India will Benefit your Business, by Jagdish N. Sheth

As always when a book is written from a Chinese and/or Indian perspective the need for innovation to ensure that people can be brought out of poverty without destroying the planet is a key issue:

“China and India have tremendous opportunity tremendous responsibility. Both nations appear committed to peaceful prosperity, and when the two most populous nations on earth opt for a postcolonial model of global cooperation and comity, the earth stands to benefit.

The quest for resources will test their resolve. Can they work together to acquire diminishing resource assets? Can they strike deals that benefit rather than exploit owner nations? Most important, can they use these those recourses wisely, conserve them where possible, and lead in the development of alternative energy resources? If they fail in this task, the world will pay a heavy price. If they succeed, Chindia’s rise will lift people everywhere.”

Another book, that unfortunately is not very good, is The Elephant and the Dragon. The only thing I think is better about this book compared with Sheth’s book is the cover.

The book is written by a journalist from Forbes magazine and might serve as a reminder how important it is to not only listen to western voices. The book is filled with sentences that make you wonder if the author is serious or ironic. Surly no one would seriously suggest that China, without any support would ban traditional cars and only allow ethanol cars… This is such a bizarre statement. I hope that it is meant to be ironic and make western readers think about their own unsustainable transportation system that China is now copying (with the help of western experts). If not it would show that the author have not thought about where that ethanol should come from (would be hard to feed people and have the whole of Chinas population drive around in ethanol cars), second you would expect someone writing for a US magazine in an old UK colony should think a little about what countries like the US is doing. But maybe most of all it is so interesting to compare the realization among authors like Sheth who, based on a concrete reality, writes that we need a new development path with authors like Meredith who, what seem based on short articles pulled together as a book, write a book that fail almost entirely to pull fragments together and present anything useful. To be fair the book could help people to become more curious about China and India, hopefully they will find other books then…

The China-India link is an interesting discussion that I look forward to follow the coming years. When we released the report “Indian companies in the 21st Century” in 2006 and recommended a joint initiative between China and India people where still quite skeptical. When we arranged the “Sino-Indian axis for Business Sustainability” the interest was significant. Still it is not easy to create these links in practice, but I hope that we will see a number of interesting concrete initiatives in the near future.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Barroso in CeBIT – but they could not connect me from India

Barroso followed in the footsteps of Viviane Reding and her presentation at EBS (see earlier blog) when he spoke at CeBIT. It is great to see this high-level interest where ICT slowly is beginning to be seen as part of the core strategy ahead towards a low-carbon sustainable society. Hopefully people will see that things like CCS is marginal in comparison and that the focus should be on integrated system solutions that support innovation and a new generation of companies.

An "interesting" detail is that I was asked to participate at CeBIT to discuss sustainability and ICT. I asked if I could participate from India (where I am right now), but that was not possible. If one of the leading ICT events on the planet can not arrange a video link to discuss the sustainable use of ICT we still have a long way to go. Let's hope this is the last year that the organizers fail to provide the possibility to link India with Europe...

Below is the part of Barroso’s speech covering ICT and climate, the full speech is available here. (1/4 of the full speech was ICT and climate)


José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
ICT Industry has a Major Role to Play in the European Economy of the 21st Century
CeBIT Trade Fair
Hannover, 3 March 2008


I already briefly mentioned the climate and sustainability challenge, and here too, we want Europe to lead in addressing this challenge, not least through the use of ICT.

The energy and climate policy we are proposing will require efforts, but will imply huge opportunities too, for all sectors. European business, and the ICT sector in particular, will be key partners in the new environment that will emerge.

Just as ICT has contributed to welfare and growth, it also has a major role to play in greening the European economy, in improving energy efficiency and lowering emissions.

Europe must more than double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency, for example. There is tremendous untapped potential in using ICT for adding intelligence to components, products, equipment and services, and for addressing barriers and market failures.

First, ICT can substitute for physical products by using online services, moving business to the internet and adopting new ways of working, like video-conferencing.

Second, the ICT sector itself must clean up its own act. The carbon footprint of the ICT sector is small but growing. I believe the ICT industries are ready to set a good example, and I am encouraged by recent developments.

But the real gains will come from ICT as an enabler to improve energy efficiency across the economy. ICT matters for energy reduction, especially in transport and the energy intensive sectors.

In the energy generation, distribution and storage industry, overall potential savings of up to 40% are considered possible.

ICT’s ability to organize and innovate is a key factor. We see whole cities like Gothenburg in Sweden moving their local electricity grid towards a smart "Internet of Energy", with self-organizing online sensors and controls which monitor and optimize the energy use. Needless to say, these developments also need to be backed up by our regulation reforms in energy and telecom.

The Commission itself is exploring voluntary agreements with industry, and we are supporting research and large-scale pilot projects on energy efficient public buildings. And the new European Institute of Innovation and Technology will also be heavily involved in this area.

A Commission Communication on Energy Efficiency through ICTs is under way. It will spell out in more detail the messages I am giving here today.

Europe needs all stakeholders to sign up to the goal of better energy efficiency to achieve sustainable growth. With smart use of smart technologies, we can all be winners in the transition to an energy-efficient, sustainable knowledge based society.

So it is also your turn to seize these opportunities and to participate in innovation and research to tackle climate change.

The ICT sector is crucial to the huge forward-looking project we are embarking upon with our climate policy. This will be a driving force for many decades. It will open up horizons we cannot even imagine at this stage. I urge you to join us in this venture.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Under a Green Sky - but not here in Delhi

Spending time here in India, doing my best to support those who want to take transform a society still struggling to provide the basic needs for people, it is easy to feel caught between the urgent needs of today (and just continue in the footsteps of those who have better lives at the expense of the planet) and the needs of tomorrow (and feel that we have a lot in front of us).

What fascinates me is the great amount of energy being invested in denial and horror stories in the West, and so little in action. Here in India I have a similar feeling as in China. It is about result and legacy.

Still, I enjoy books that make you think about the historic context you are in, and the idea behind "under a green sky" is thought provoking. Have a look at this article in Wired, or buy the book, then act.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

GlobalFOCUS one year - there is hope

If you looking for a reason to celebrate, take a look at and think about what is possible to do in a year, starting from nothing... One year of work for real change. GlobalFOCUS message: Do not listen to what people say is possible, focus on what's necessary. Happy birthday!