Climate change worries most of us, and although technology has done much to reduce and reshape environmental impacts in some respects, the notion that technology is not itself also part of the root cause of the problem is not tenable. Computing needs to clean up its act, otherwise it’s going to find itself under some very black clouds.
A data centre, for example, might consume 30GWh of power in a year, much of it from non-renewable sources. Even a Google search releases approximately 0.2g of CO2 into the atmosphere, and providing one user with one month of Google services generates about the same greenhouse gas emissions as driving a car for one mile.
We all want to get these figures down – but at the same time, technology partners make their living from this stuff, directly or indirectly. So what can they (and the rest of us in the industry) do to get involved in technology innovation that mitigates the effects of climate change without endangering business success?
In short, quite apart from the need, what is the opportunity here?
Ecological innovation, economic sense
What the opportunity doesn’t look like is simply enabling technology companies with a conscience to speak to like-minded innovators who are in a position to effect environmental improvement. This might fuel change, but it won’t power success.
Instead, the dialogue must seize the opportunity to rapidly transform environmental change into a positive, first-mover market advantage, by enabling those innovators to become active technology partners.
In short, this is about framing responsible computing, from the very start, as a launch pad for better business, as well as a springboard to a better world.
The bar is high: businesses and nation states have a target of achieving net zero emissions by the year 2050. That’s not going to happen without the commitment of the tech giants and the brilliance of innovators, for sure – but it’s not going to happen without an effective partnership vision to drive it commercially from first base, either.
That’s the opportunity. So how can innovators get involved?
Rise to a real challenge!
One approach that’s gathering considerable momentum in the industry is IBM’s Responsible Computing Framework. This bills itself rather drily as ‘a systemic approach to the challenge of reducing the environmental impact of computing, in ways that are ethical but also efficient, open and secure’, but – verbiage apart – it also succeeds in translating aspiration into action through its new Tech Innovation Challenge.
And to ensure that the all-important partnership piece is in place, the best innovators will then have the opportunity to partner with IBM on bringing their solutions to market, to create a more sustainable – but also commercially viable – generation of technology solutions to help in the fight against climate change.
Climate change and computing: a bright future?
Facing facts, no amount of clever technology is ever going to eradicate climate change. The best we can do is to constantly strive to reduce its impact and thereby take the industry, over time, to a better place. It will be no Utopia, but it will be no Armageddon either.
Innovators, developers, partners, corporations – we all have a responsibility in this respect, but there is no shortage of opportunities for us to benefit from, either.
Rise to this Challenging Opportunity
This is a great chance to showcase your capabilities and products to leading corporates and governments, with support from IBM. And to partner with key corporates and IBM to run a pilot or “proof-of-concept” project, including working with IBM’s Developer and R&D teams.
There is great potential of a long-term partnership with IBM and their corporate clients, with the opportunity to access new markets and accelerate product and/or service development. You can apply for “Cloud Engagement Funds” with a successful business case. Joining IBM’s Partner Ecosystem with all its associated benefits like access to free cloud credits, general market awareness, promotions and branding is well worth serious consideration.