UK must develop digital policy to hit net zero targets, new report finds

30/06/2022
  • New report by independent consultancy, FarrPoint, highlights missed opportunities by G7 economies to accelerate path to net zero by aligning climate policy with digital policies.
  • Digital policy is climate policy, states FarrPoint.
  • A lack of defined digital policies across the G7 means the block is missing an opportunity to remove as much as 20% of greenhouse gases from their collective emissions. 

DIGITAL policies are being overlooked by the world’s leading economies – including the UK – in their efforts to achieve net zero by 2050, according to a new report by independent connectivity consultants, FarrPoint.

The report, which was commissioned by a leading Canadian telecoms provider, Telus, examined the digital policies that G7 members have, or are planning to introduce, as they work towards becoming net zero economies by 2050.

FarrPoint’s research concluded that the UK, whilst leading the way in delivering net zero targets, has, along with other G7 members, no specific national digital policies designed to support climate action. The report suggests that the development and inclusion of digital policies within the government’s sustainability commitments presents a clear opportunity to create positive outcomes and accelerate the UK’s pathway to net zero.

Digital policy is increasingly viewed as a vital way for governments to work towards their net zero commitments. Research highlights how digital solutions, underpinned by the right levels of investment in the underlying infrastructure over which the solutions can be delivered, could bring down greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe) by an average of c.20%. This would save 2.4 billion tonnes of GHGe across the G7 and around 150 million tonnes in the UK. 

The report also highlights various recommendations that could be implemented to improve alignment between climate and digital policy. These include transitioning away from broadband and mobile network infrastructure competition (including improved mobile spectrum sharing), which would limit emissions from construction, allocate assets more efficiently, but also ensure that network and infrastructure owners can make a reasonable return on their investment.

Additionally, FarrPoint suggests that a combination of tax incentives should be introduced to encourage changes in working practices, governments should expand the delivery of public services digitally, and create the economic conditions to aid wider digital adoption within the economy by reducing financial barriers to entry. Also, the report recommends that all digital procurement and investment requiring public funding should consider projects with credible carbon reduction plans to reduce the ecological impact of infrastructure investment.

Finally, the report notes that the seven sectors identified and tracked by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will see improvements in GHGe emissions reductions as a direct result of digital policies.

Andrew Muir, CEO, FarrPoint, said: “Like many countries, the UK’s efforts to combat climate change are developing well, but there is still much more work to be done if it is to achieve its net zero targets. Across the world, digital services and solutions have been overlooked as a mechanism to achieve our collective environmental goals. It is vital that governments, organisations, and consumers alike recognise that digital policy is climate policy and must become embedded within each other. In creating this report, we provide a clear path forward to kick-start a conversation across the G7 nations on the critical role digital can play in reaching net zero.

“Not only does this make commercial sense and improve the lives of consumers but improved digital policy also can help drive emissions down, contributing to the UK reaching its 2030 goal of a 68% reduction of its 1990 emissions.” The full report has been made available for download and can be accessed via this link: https://www.farrpoint.com/uploads/store/mediaupload/492/file/Digital_Policy_and_Climate_Change_Report_FarrPoint_2022.pdf

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