Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The Future of Sustainable Products and Services, September 28-29, 2009 in Essen, Germany

Notes during The Future of Sustainable Products and Services:
Creating groups for transformative change around demonstration projects that involve media and academia. Guided by a council of elders advised by a group of young people.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Five years ago there was the “First European Conference on Telecommunications and Sustainability”. There I met Katalin Szomolányi and we begun our collaboration. One of the most well-known outcomes from this collaboration is the roadmap “Saving the climate @ the speed of light”.

Now I was in Budapest again for Sustainability day 2009.

Things have really changed over these five years and one of the things I saw was Ericsson with the material that was just was released 9th of September (see picture with Anita Veszeli from Ericsson).

I hope some of the participants was inspired by the day and that they will start projects that will contribute to a new generation of solutions. Maybe I will be back in Budapest in 2014 to see how far these ideas have developed in five years…

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

New paper: A five-step-plan for a low carbon urban development

A new material: A five-step-plan for a low carbon urban development - Understanding and implementing low carbon ICT/telecom solutions that help economic development while reducing carbon emissions is now out.

This is the first material from the WWF Sweden-Ericsson collaboration and was ready for the Broadband World Forum. I presented some of the key findings from the material during a panel chaired by Elaine Weidman from Ericsson. The material can be downloaded here (6 MB).

There were two interesting presentations from operators with concrete examples and calculations. First from Marc Fossier, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, Orange and second from Mike Wright, Executive Director, Wireless, Telstra. Louis Zacharilla, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum, also did a presentation about the new infrastructure that broadband presents.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

New paper: From ”Green IT” to ”Greening with IT” in 2009 A white paper on the financial crisis as an opportunity to ensure accelerated CO2 reductions

From ”Green IT” to ”Greening with IT” in 2009
-A white paper on the financial crisis as an opportunity to ensure accelerated CO2 reductions with low carbon it solutions (download here)

The “From 'Green IT' to 'Greening with IT' in 2009” is the last paper from the joint WWF and HP project: “first billion tonnes CO2 reduction with smart ICT”. It was a great project and I think it is fair to say that it contributed to putting low carbon ICT on the global agenda.

It is a great paper to end the WWF-HP project with as the focus is how the current economic and financial crisis can be turned into an opportunity. It is also a great support for the interesting work that is emerging in emerging countries like China, Mexico and India. It can hopefully also support the follow-up from the OECD declaration on green growth 24-25 June 2009 where ICT was mentioned a number of times (download here with ICT highlighted, with the help of OECD). It is great that OECD also managed to get low-carbon infrastructure in the declaration and if low carbon infrastructure become a key focus for Copenhagen that would be a significant step forward.

Op-ed China Daily:End of fossil fuel and fueling of innovations

This is my op-ed article about end of oil, I have been working around the clock to get everything done that I need to get done before I leave WWF Sweden end of September so I missed that it was published last week (here is the link to China Daily) and now understand the reason for all the emails about oil... When the IEA study will be public I think we will see beginning of a very tense time in the energy sector. The end of oil will no longer be academic, it will become a key economic and security policy issue. As I argue in the article this will be one of the most important battles in the early 21st Century. I think the chances that China will make wise choses are better then most western countries where powerful power companies are integrated in the governments in a way that make rational and innovative decision close to impossible.

We really need new companies moving into the mainstream discussion. As long as the old energy companies are the advisors we will continue to see most of the investment going into the supply side and most of it in extraction/refining related solutions, as this is where the business models are. An index/measure to assess where companies are investing their money is moving up my priority list.

End of fossil fuel and fueling of innovations
The most authoritative energy organization just indicated that the end of oil is much nearer than expected. The day we will see the end of the oil era can best be described as an oil-bomb implosion -more powerful than anything humanity has seen.

In a unique initiative the International Energy Agency in Paris has conducted its first study to assess the future oil supplies. The decision to survey supply - instead of just demand, as in the past - reflects an increasing fear among world leaders that oil reserves may dry up much sooner than expected.

Very soon the day will come when humanity will see the end of oil. If the response is strategic from Chinese companies and policymakers it could boost a shift from high-carbon goods "made in China" to smart 21st century solutions "innovated in China" that could help the world into a global circular economy.

At first thought the end of cheap oil may look like a good thing for the environment because much of the carbon emission that causes global warming comes from oil. The problem is that most of the international companies responsible for providing energy have shown they are not that interested in a sustainable future with renewable energy and energy efficiency. When oil prices were close to $150 a barrel last year we could see increased investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, but the real investments were in more and dirtier fossil fuels.

Three areas received a lot of attention and investments from the fossil fuel industry last year: Tar sand, coal to liquid and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Tar sand is dirty oil that requires a lot of energy to be extracted so it emits much more carbon than traditional oil. Coal to liquid is a method of extracting liquid fuel from coal, which again causes much higher emissions than traditional oil because it is a very energy intensive process. And CCS is an "end-of-pipe" technology where the problem is made marginally less destructive.

From an economic and innovative perspective these investments make no sense. Their ways of providing energy are dirtier and more expensive, and they don't drive innovation or create any significant job opportunities compared with most other options.

Energy efficient buildings, or even carbon-positive buildings, new smart IT solutions that allow teleworking and smart public transport system can be built around renewable energy at the same or cheaper cost.

Why then big investments were not made in smart and renewable energy solutions? The reason is simple and important both. It is about business ideas and the will to keep on using an infrastructure that we sooner or later must leave behind.

The world, especially the industrial world, has such a strong addiction to oil that we will probably see wars over oil and more investments in climate destructive technologies if we don't start investing for a world beyond oil.

Since oil consumption in China is expected to increase by about 60 percent by 2020, according to studies conducted by Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, it can turn the crisis into an opportunity.

The country has the chance of shifting from a society built on oil and look at development beyond the "age of oil". Its focus should shift from increased oil exploration and more fossil technologies toward new smart technologies that also can be exported.

Smart public transport, teleworking and smart buildings can become the three pillars of an oil-free future for China and the rest of the world. But for that to happen we need new initiatives.

First and most important is to ensure that companies engaged in extracting, refining and supplying fossil fuel are not in charge of the development agenda. Many western governments have such companies as their main advisors on climate policy.

It's natural that these companies would want to protect their business model and sell as much energy as possible instead of helping people get the service they need in the most climate-efficient way. The companies want to protect the investments in the infrastructure they have built, too. That means they would use more fuel for their refineries, pipelines and power stations.

It is almost impossible for them to give up the use of fossil fuel both as a raw material and finished product because their knowledge and innovative power is almost totally limited to fossil solutions.

Second, no company should be supported or given permission to operate unless it demonstrates a plan for a fossil-free future by 2020. This would prepare society for the day oil prices shoot out of the roof or the existing distribution system collapses.

Third, China can lead the way in making other oil producing countries invest all the revenue earned by their companies after oil prices cross $70 a barrel in non-fossil-fuel solutions, with a strong focus on energy efficiency and system solutions.

It doesn't make any sense to allow companies to make record profits from our dependence on oil and use it to make us more wretched slaves of fossil fuel.

Fourth, China can take up the global challenge of building oil-free cities employing the best tools and practices from around the world, and then sharing the experience with other countries.

The end of oil can lead to harmonious innovation or more aggressive investments in fossil fuel. The development road China chooses - sustainable or destructive - will not only shape the 21st century's industrial development, but also humanity's future.

The author is adviser to various companies, governments and NGOs.

The world’s first global market survey on low carbon IT -100 cities and 100 companies’ expectations from IT in relation to a low carbon future

The main conclusions from the new report are pasted in below and the whole report "The world’s first global market survey on low carbon IT -100 cities and 100 companies’ expectations from IT in relation to a low carbon future" can be downloaded (here).

This is a study that was really interesting to do . It is the world’s first global survey regarding low carbon ICT solutions. Thanks to the support of HP (they supported this work and it is linked to the ”one billion tonnes work” with WWF) we now have a better understanding about the real situation. Thanks also to Dan Gabaldon and his team at Booz & co. how did the heavy job of collecting and analyzing the data.

The uptake of low-carbon ICT is mixed across sectors and geographies. The most significant barriers include a lack of awareness of the systemic carbon and energy saving potential of ICTs, and a lack of tools and methodologies to quantify these benefits. Removing these barriers would help better leverage the financial drivers for low-carbon ICTs adoption as carbon pricing becomes more prevalent, accelerating the use of ICTs as a solution for a low-carbon economy.

1. Key Conclusions
➢ The financial crisis provides a unique opportunity to establish ICT as a key provider of low carbon solutions
o Most low carbon ICT solutions do not add costs like many other “green” activities. So far these solutions have been implemented because they help business and cities to increase productivity and save costs. If awareness of this win-win opportunity (economy and climate) spread, an accelerated uptake could be expected.
o There is no existing method to measure the low carbon contributions from ICT solutions, but the interest for such a tool is significant. A tool that would help ICT users and cities to calculate the carbon savings from using ICT solutions would increase the interest and demand in such solutions.
o IT users, especially high-emitting industries, are starting to use low carbon IT solutions for transformative change. It is necessary to collect and disseminate best practices where ICT’s role in transformative change, as well as incremental, is described .

➢ A shift in perspective from risk to profit in relation to climate change is needed for ICT to become visible as a key provider of low carbon solutions
o The green stimulus packages seem to have resulted in a situation where companies in emerging markets will increase their investments in low carbon solutions. To link ICT investments to strategic parts of stimulus packages, such as those promoting infrastructure, is important for low carbon infrastructure development.
o The areas seen as most important for investments to reduce a company’s own carbon emissions over the next five years are smart buildings and use of renewable energy, both requiring significant investment in ICT if done properly. Examples of how ICT help with smart buildings and increased use of renewable energy in different markets should be provided.

➢ Opportunities with a low carbon infrastructure must be understood
o The combined pressure from the financial and climate crises has put focus on the infrastructure . ICT solutions can be part of a low carbon infrastructure that must provide many of the services that have so far been provided by a high carbon Infrastructure. The benefits of a low carbon infrastructure need to be better understood and tools to help decision makers should be developed.
o Asia appears to be a potential leader in the area of smart buildings. With so many new buildings being built, this is a historic opportunity where buildings can turn from the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases to become a net provider of sustainable energy. ICTs role in providing the world with passive, and net producing, buildings should be documented and guidelines provided.
o Many low carbon ICT solutions are already in use by both cities and companies, but their contribution to reducing emissions is often not understood. Handbooks for cities and companies should be developed in order to explain what contributions smart ICT solutions can play.