Established digital clean technologies could enable 15 per cent of the emission reductions needed in the UK between now and 2030
The UK government must step up efforts to support the UK's emerging digital climate technology sector, a report published today argues, highlighting the dual benefits of accelerating emissions reductions and winning a bigger slice of a growing global market.
Titled Making the UK a digital clean tech leader, the report outlines the ways in which smart energy, smart mobility, and smart buildings can slash energy use and carbon emissions across their respective sectors.
The report also stresses that established digital technologies could deliver massive emissions savings if deployed at scale. For example, the study estimates that already available digital transport technologies have the potential to deliver annual carbon dioxide savings of 1 million tonnes by 2030, by easing congestion, encouraging public transport use, fostering a sharing economy, and enabling smarter and more efficient charging of electric vehicles.
Overall, researchers at industry body techUK and consultancy Deloitte calculated the deployment of digital clean tech already in the field could enable 15 per cent of the emission reductions needed in the UK between now and 2030, reducing 2030 emissions by 7.2 million tonnes. These technologies - encompassing artificial intelligence, data analytics, cloud storage, edge computing, and more - also has the potential to add £13.7bn Gross Added Value to the UK, the researchers conclude.
To unlock this potential, however, it argues the UK government must be more proactive in creating the right business environment to foster the growth of digital climate technologies.
"We are seeing the growth of a new digital tech sector, the focus of which is to cut carbon emissions and support other sectors in their transition to net zero," said TechUK CEO Julian David. "But digitalisation doesn't just happen. We need to work with government to unlock the full potential of tech in helping UK businesses become smarter, more efficient and cleaner."
Accordingly, it outlines a series of recommendations for government policy, including calls for ministers to launch a call for evidence to explore incentive schemes to stimulate low-carbon investment in businesses, homes, and the public sector.
It also calls for the government to produce a "roadmap to net zero", composed of an updated Clean Growth Strategy, Energy White Paper, and Infrastructure Strategy.
Other suggestions including running outcome - and problem-based innovation challenges to crowd-source innovative technology solutions, pursuing policies to encourage open data, and establishing a "net zero delivery office" within the department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
"We have just three decades left to reach net zero and are on the cusp of embarking on massive system changes across our economy," said Susanne Baker, techUK's associate director for climate, environment and sustainability.
"We can harness digital to help us to reach that more efficiently. But to maximise what we as a sector can do, we need to create space for digital and critically we need an inclusive debate and strategy on open data for the planet."
From XR protests and trade board appointments to Brexit brinkmanship and transport funding, the government's triangulation on green issues points to a high stakes autumn
Major new report warns government urgently needs to set out credible strategy for decarbonising transport, buildings, agriculture, and industry
Green figures slam growing prospect of no-deal Brexit as 'seriously bad' for environment and COP26 climate summit
Ban Ki Moon's call comes as a new report from the Clean Air Fund calls for greater collaboration between philanthropic and government-funded efforts