Technology has been a major topic of discussion at the World Economic Forum taking place this week in Davos.Technology and its potential to tackle climate change has been a major topic of discussion at the World Economic Forum taking place this week in Davos.
"Technology provides the solutions" to offset the affects of climate change, said Jacques Aigrain, chief executive of financial services group, Swiss Re. Technology solutions must also be easily transferable to India and China - countries that Aigrain termed "our pension funds" – as they will be the future drivers of economic growth. He added that it is the politicians' responsibility to take pre-emptive measures, although in the end, "market solutions will prevail".
Aigrain's remarks closely echoed those of Steve Chu, director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who said that, "without clean coal extraction we're going to have an enormous problem". "We have to invest very seriously in technology and encourage China and India not to make the same mistakes as the US." The world "still has time but not that much time – a few decades – to get [progress on climate change] going in a big way", said Chu.
Climate change has undoubtedly been at the top of the agenda for business leaders at the forum at Davos and research firm Gartner predicts it will rise up political, media, enterprise, investor and consumer agendas through 2012.
It said environmental issues represent a double-edged sword for the IT industry because they offer threats as well as opportunities. IT contributes to environmental problems through greenhouse gas emissions (namely, carbon dioxide as a result of energy consumption in the manufacturing process and in operations), landfills, pollution, contamination and environmentally unsustainable activities.
But, said Gartner: “IT also provides ways to address many environmental issues from the role of virtual collaboration in reducing corporate travel to the use of control systems in reducing energy consumption in buildings. Furthermore, emerging or improved technologies will have a positive impact on the environment, such as low-power display technologies, improved battery technologies and low-cost sensor networks.”