To Ensure a Green Future, We Need Big Data and Smart Mobility

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

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For Europe, the future is green. The European Green Deal (EGD) has set the EU on a course to become the first climate-neutral region on the planet. Its goals are big: in addition to being climate neutral by 2050, the EU plans to reduce pollution to zero, further enhance the circular economy through product sustainability, employ a sustainable chemicals strategy, and implement eco-friendly design and procurement practices that will position the EU as a global leader in sustainability and the green economy.

Julian Lageard is the Director for Government, Markets and Trade at Intel Corporation.

As the largest consumption market in the world, the EU has a responsibility to address its unsustainable actions that are ultimately destroying the environment. Whether the EGD will result in other continents or nations adopting complementary practices remains to be seen. What we do know is that the EU’s quest to become climate-neutral will require innovative new technologies — and sustainable manufacturing processes that support them. The EGD action plan includes support for industries to innovate across a variety of sectors and investment in environmentally friendly technology. This support and investment will be critical as today’s technology companies search for solutions to our society’s problems.

Take, for instance, the goal to make buildings, a major contributor to GHG emissions, more efficient (another part of the EGD action plan). To do that effectively, we must first assess the technologies currently being utilized and leverage performance data to benchmark existing efficiency levels. From there, we must implement new solutions and ensure continuous monitoring of the systems in place. That requires data. A lot of data. Without it, we will not be able to analyze real-time efficiency levels, identify inefficiencies within the system, or iterate on the processes and products we implement.

This focus on building efficiency is part of a broader push for better, cleaner infrastructure at every level, from buildings to utilities to transportation. Without this green backbone, cities in the EU and worldwide will be unable to achieve climate neutrality, regardless of the other policies they put in place. Thankfully, urban centres are embracing the term “smart city” and smart solutions that leverage AI, IoT and cloud computing. In the years to come, smart mobility has the potential to expand markets and enable both consumers and companies to reduce their carbon footprint by making smart decisions about transit.

Corporations will need to do more than just reduce their carbon footprint in order to achieve the green future the EU envisions. Current corporate responsibility efforts tend not to aim high enough, with some exceptions. At Intel, we have outlined a robust set of 2030 Goals that align well with the EGD, including achieving carbon-neutral computing, net positive water use, 100% renewable power and zero total waste to landfill. We believe that commitments like these will help technology companies power a truly green future.

As 2020 draws to a close and the world begins to look forward to the year ahead, the EU actions through the EGD are a great opportunity to shape not only what 2021 looks like but also how corporations and consumers will adapt their processes and habits for a new world. The focus on smart mobility, technology, big data and big society will lay the foundations for a climate-neutral future. A future in which our air is cleaner, our biodiversity is protected and our economy is more sustainable than ever before.

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