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: 

“There are goals like that [net zero] at the university that are written in papers… but how [does] that translate into the actual digital environment? I don’t think it really does” 

Digital and technology practitioner at a university

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Legacy systems and outdated service design are a significant source of carbon.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 

Potential solutions 

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: 

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: 

Next: Make net zero a priority within digital