Tech Net Zero discovery report – recommendation 1
Recommendation 1 – Raise awareness
What’s the problem?
In June 2019 the UK passed a net zero emissions law – the ‘2050 Target Amendment’ to the Climate Change 2008 Act – requiring the UK to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. In February 2021, the Welsh Government also set out its legal commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
Our research found that digital and technology leaders and practitioners lacked a consistent awareness of:
- their organisations’ net zero goals and how they relate to Welsh Government or UK policy
- how digital technology can support net zero
- what meeting net zero means in their context
Awareness of net zero and its relationship to digital solutions and services is essential given digital’s potential to help reach carbon reduction targets. As the Royal Society’s Digital technology and the planet report notes:
“Nearly a third of the 50% carbon emissions reductions the UK needs to make by 2030 could be achieved through existing digital technology”
Legacy systems and outdated service design are a significant source of carbon.
Read more in our research findings about this problem:
Do they know how digital could help reduce emissions?
Are they considering carbon emissions when making decisions?
Lack of awareness around sustainability and what digital means for it
When considering how net zero applies in the context of a particular service or product, we need to include two distinct perspectives on digital’s role in reducing carbon emissions:
- the sustainability and carbon footprint of the digital technology itself
- the impact digital can have on improving sustainability and carbon footprint of services
There is understanding of the first of these perspectives within the public sector in Wales. Reducing energy consumption and electronic waste disposal regulations have underlain activity for many years.
Familiarity with the second perspective is much less common. That perspective relates to application of digital in the wider sense, which depends on the digital maturity and digital skill sets of the organisation.
Communication and education are essential in increasing awareness of digital’s role in reaching net zero.
Possible approaches to solving this problem include:
- highlighting existing policies and commitments
- mounting a cross public sector communications campaign
- general carbon literacy training
- highlight where sustainability is already being built into public sector digital policy and strategy
- detailed case studies about applying digital to carbon reduction
- signposting best practice content and techniques
- make sustainability more prominent within the Digital Service Standards for Wales