On the ground at COP27 – is technology the solution to the climate crisis? | HCLTech

On the ground at COP27 – is technology the solution to the climate crisis?

The world is at a tipping point. Can technology and collaboration help solve the ever-expanding climate crisis and tip the balance in our favour?
7 min read
Aoife Walsh
Aoife Walsh
Senior Director, HCLTech
7 min read
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COP27 felt different. The same climate themes emerged—mitigation, adaptation and resilience—but a palpable sense of urgency emanated from the very diverse sets of stakeholders. In a week when the world’s population surpassed 8 billion, it’s clear that we need solutions and we need them fast.

Technology and collaboration may hold the answer in helping us to continue our way of life and co-exist with the natural world.

Collective solutions

The negotiating parties at this year’s United Nations Climate conference, COP27, needed three extra days to arrive at a deal that has been hailed as a “step towards justice”. A loss and damage fund was created, which ensures poorer nations will receive financial assistance to help them cope with the impact of climate change.

The 30,000 attendees and the world watching on may wonder why the negotiators were not able to go further. The reality is that any deal is a step in the right direction. Civil society, private business and investors all need to continue focusing on the urgency to act, so that that the forward-looking collective solutions, openly discussed outside the negotiation rooms, may take shape at COP28 in Dubai.

The very presence of those multiple stakeholder groups at COP27 is an indication that collaboration is going to be vital in unlocking the key innovations required to change course and address the systematic issues at the heart of the climate crisis.

Brazil’s President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva received a hero’s welcome from the gathered crowds for his pledge to protect the Amazon rainforest. Without the Amazons important carbon capture, the global challenges ahead would be far more demanding. But how will Brazil support its growing population and export demands?

No single factor will be able to solve this crisis alone. From helping the poorest rural communities to be more resilient, to reducing the energy reliance of enterprises, technology solutions implemented in collaboration with all stakeholders have a very important part to play.

Climate resilience in communities

To start building solutions, it is vital to understand the cause of the problem. The corporate social responsibility arm of HCLTech - the HCL Foundation, has spent more than a decade understanding the various needs of communities across India.

The Foundation’s scalable and sustainable ways of working or ‘source codes’ are orientated around the root cause and have been developed through rigorous process, leveraging and harnessing the transformational power of technology.

Everything from reforestation to installing solar panels in rural communities, is based on precise data analytics and predictive trends to maximise the chances of success. Data sharing and cloud capabilities ensure that sharing knowledge and opening source codes to the wider world enables success to be replicated. Through the connectivity provided by cloud, innovative solutions that have been proven to increase resilience to climate change, can be leveraged and augmented through open collaboration.

Enterprise level solutions

Similar to the approach within communities, enterprises large and small need to start by identifying the issue.

As the 4 A’s (Ambition, Action, Advocacy and Accountability) of climate leadership highlight, the issue for businesses begins with ambition. Establishing the basis for ambition must be underpinned by understanding the current enterprise status on issues, such as the precise cause and quantification of carbon (and carbon equivalent) emissions.

In a recent research report, McKinsey pinpointed two areas where technology can have an impact on reducing emissions.

  1. The use of technology and analytics to reduce emissions by:
    1. reducing (improving operational efficiency),
    2. replacing (shifting emission-generating activities to cleaner alternatives) and
    3. reusing (recycling material)
  2. Reducing emissions from the enterprise’s technology estate

The report focuses on the enterprise’s technology estate and begins with a focus on “the facts”. Once IT can see where the issues lie, it is then possible to work across the organization to identify opportunities to reduce carbon emissions. Interestingly, the research concluded that end-user devices emit more carbon than data centres. Furthermore, data centre optimization is a less effective carbon reduction option than migrating to cloud.

In the quest for ways to reduce carbon emissions, attendees and onlookers at COP27 would agree that such insight is fundamentally important. Understanding where and how to start, then measuring progress through a journey to net zero is not possible without technology.

At HCLTech, we believe in the importance of engaging with our clients and partners to channel our collective thoughts and create technology solutions for sustainable impact. From building online platforms for artisans to sell their products to migrating some of the largest companies in the world to the cloud, we are invested in a more sustainable future for all.


Act, Pact, Impact - HCLTech publishes its 2022 Sustainability Report

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Prioritizing sustainability and embedding it into your strategy is not just good business, it’s good for business. More sustainable companies will attract and retain the best talent and maintain a better relationship with partners and customers. Reputation matters when it comes to action on climate and sustainability.

Our employees and customers are represented by an increasingly younger demographic, who are depending on us to help them channel their energy towards creating meaningful impact and fulfilling our sustainability pledges. We owe it to them, and they expect us to act.

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