Climate crowdsourcing: Government urged to put digital technology at heart of net-zero strategy
A new report has called on the UK Government to secure a windfall of the emerging digital climate tech sector by embracing low-carbon innovation through policy measures - a move which could help slash emissions and add billions to the UK economy.
The research is outlined in a new report – How to make the UK a digital cleantech leader – launched by techUK and Deloitte. The report states that embracing new digital climate solutions could deliver a 15% increase in carbon emissions abatement by 2030 whilst adding £13.7bn Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK.
Deloitte’s UK chair Nick Owen said: “When addressing the climate crisis, how we develop and deploy digital technology matters. Clean technology is already making a positive contribution to economic growth and to reducing emissions – and this contribution is projected to grow.
“There is still much more to do, however, and we are committed to working with our clients to deploy clean technology as an essential tool in addressing the climate crisis head on.”
The report notes the role that access to data can have in creating informed policy decisions on methods to slash national emissions. As such, the report calls for the forthcoming National Data Strategy to focus heavily on the UK’s net-zero carbon target.
Additionally, the report calls for the Government to trial various new technologies that could assist with the net-zero transition, not just to uncover their decarbonisation viability, but to also uncover any addition value propositions.
Such solutions could help the UK become a leading market for smart energy, mobility, connected homes and buildings and climate modelling scenarios. “Crowd-sourcing” these solutions could also help overcome policy challenges on a lack of information on potential technological breakthroughs, the report added.
A new Net-Zero Tech Taskforce could unlock regulatory barriers, while the report also calls for evidence on how to strengthen the investment case and unlock private finance appetite for low-carbon solutions.
techUK’s chief executive Julian David said: “We are seeing the growth of a new digital tech sector, the focus of which is to cut carbon emissions and support other sectors in their transition to net zero. But digitalisation doesn’t just happen. We need to work with government to unlock the full potential of tech in helping UK businesses become smarter, more efficient and cleaner.”
Global innovation gap
However, some 75% of the emissions reductions necessary to meet net-zero are dependent on technologies which have not yet reached commercial maturity, analysis from the International Energy Agency (IEA) has found.
The Agency’s clean energy innovation report warns that net-zero targets, which now cover half of GDP globally, will not be met without “major acceleration” of innovation in four key areas – electrifying heat and transport; carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS); green hydrogen and bioenergy.
Just 25% of the emissions needed to meet net-zero between 2050 and 2070 are likely to result from mature technologies such as wind generation, nuclear power, solar power and energy-efficiency measures, the report states.
the UK’s Committee on Climate Change has repeatedly stated that technologies such as CCUS and hydrogen are “not optional” if net-zero is to be met. Energy Systems Catapult is similarly calling for “unprecedented innovation” to spur decarbonisation, particularly in the hydrogen and agri-food spheres.
However, some green groups and scientists have warned that policymakers have, in recent times, become over-reliant on technologies which are not yet mature.