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Tech’s Role in Addressing Climate Change

Ahead of Earth Week, ITI hosted White House Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and former EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, who is the Vice President, Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives at Apple, to discuss how technology can continue to help revolutionize the way we protect our planet. Their conversation, which happened on April 16, was followed by a panel with John Godfrey, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, Samsung; Barbara Humpton, President and CEO, Siemens Corporation; and Susan Uthayakumar, President, Sustainability Business Division, Schneider Electric on the same topics. The event, available to watch here, was moderated by ITI President and CEO Jason Oxman.

As the United States re-engages in the global effort to address climate change, the tech industry has an important role and responsibility in the effort to help advance climate solutions in a way that is socially equitable,” ITI’s Oxman said.

Advisor McCarthy and Former Administrator Jackson examined how accelerating the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy will not only minimize the impacts of climate change, but will also support global economic competitiveness and produce multiple benefits for job growth, public health, resiliency, and the environment. Their conversation underscored that climate change demands an immediate, meaningful, and global response from government, the private sector, and other partners.

"We now have an infrastructure bill that represents major climate action and makes real investments in technologies in conjunction with the business community's own investments," Apple’s Jackson said.

ITI strongly supports international cooperation on addressing this crisis, and we welcome the Biden Administration’s immediate actions to ensure the United States is a partner in this global effort. Importantly, ITI shares the Biden Administration’s commitment to ensuring climate policies are implemented equitably and leverage innovation to mitigate inequity, address environmental racism, and curtail future health disparities.

The industry panel explored the tech industry’s important role in combatting climate change by applying technology products and services across its value chain, sharing best practices, and supporting U.S. government policies that increase relevant public and private sector collaboration and advance the United States’ climate ambitions. Tech-enabled efficiency and decarbonization solutions provide carbon reduction opportunities to other sectors of the economy, too.

"Give us a goal and watch what happens. To have government create the framework and then use it to unleash the power of private-sector innovation is key,” Siemens’ Humpton said.

ITI and its members are focused on addressing both the industry’s footprint – direct carbon emissions and impacts from the information and communications technology (ICT) industry – and handprint – carbon reductions in other sectors achieved through the innovations provided by the ICT industry. That includes advocating for U.S. policymakers to set mandatory targets that meet or exceed recommendations by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"Any company that makes things that use energy can help mitigate climate change by innovating and investing in efficient products,” Samsung’s Godfrey noted.

To address the climate impact of other industries utilizing ICT tools, also known as an industry’s handprint, ITI advocates for prioritization and investment in areas such as ICT-enabled efficiency and decarbonization solutions the help to reduce the climate footprint of other sectors of the economy as well as smart grids, artificial intelligence (AI), intelligent transportation systems, electrification, smart manufacturing, building management systems, smart cities, the internet of things (IoT), and blockchain solutions to increase efficiency throughout the economy.

"In our sustainability journey, we looked at how to make our own facilities carbon neutral and how we can innovate to help our clients and customer base on their journey as well," Schneider Electric’s Uthayakumar said.

Public Policy Tags: Climate Change, Climate Change, Environment & Sustainability