PARTNER INTERVIEW: The ICT sector has an excellent opportunity to drive forward global sustainability and environmental efforts, not just by cutting its own emissions but also in aiding other industries to leverage ICT technologies to save energy and reduce emission.
To investigate progress made by the mobile and other communications sectors and assess opportunities moving forward, Mobile World Live spoke to Huawei Carrier business group chief marketing officer Doctor Philip Song and Luis Neves, CEO of the Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI).
During the session hosted in Huawei’s extended reality studio at MWC 2022 Barcelona, Song introduced the vendor’s latest vision in the area of sustainability, described as “More Bits, Less Watts” where modern ICT infrastructure is used to support a reduction in carbon emissions.
“The digitalisation and transformation of leading ICT technologies can help to reduce energy use and to reduce carbon emissions,” he explained. “When 3G users migrate to 4G and 5G, energy could be saved because with the development of communication technologies efficiency can also be improved.”
He added Huawei had been using innovative products and solution to help operators reduce carbon emissions while consumers enjoy “the perfect experience with advanced technology”.
Song noted the impact of the industry goes beyond its own infrastructure, highlighting the ability of the technology sector to use advanced innovations to cut wider emissions by transforming other industries. This, he calls ICT enablement or the carbon handprint.
Here, he used the example of cloud service providers backing-up, pointing to “the large amount of data they usually back-up into the disk array and then transport to another place by truck, physically.
“During this process more than 300 kilograms of carbon is generated. So if we change it to use optical transmission technology only 20 kilograms of carbon emissions are generated. It’s more efficient,” he added.
In recent years the development of environmentally sustainable products and initiatives has been one of Huawei’s major priorities.
Across the globe GeSI is recognised as a thought leader and key driver of the sustainability agenda for the ICT sector. Among its activities is the production of reports assessing and providing insight into the potential impact ICT technology can have on the industry’s own, and wider, sustainability efforts.
During the interview with MWL, Neves highlighted the organisation had been creating reports on the efforts and environmental impact of the industry for several years, including its latest SMARTer2030 publication.
“GeSI has been doing these reports since 2007 and the reason for that was because our industry was in the spotlight from a Gartner [analyst] report saying that the global [carbon] footprint of the industry was two per cent,” he explained.
The original report commissioned by GeSI addressed three main questions: What is the global carbon footprint of the mobile industry? What is the enabling impact that GeSI refers to as the carbon handprint? And what is the business value, as Neves argues there must be one.
At the time it found, indeed, that the carbon footprint was two per cent, but Neves added: “the enabling impact was five times bigger and, of course, the business value was huge.”
He noted it had also identified increases in the so-called enabling impact of mobile. “20 per cent of the global emissions could be brought down by the ICT industry,” he stated.
“I like to talk about the enabling impact of the industry, because if we enable industry sectors like power, manufacturing, mobility, agriculture, health and education we bring a positive impact to all of those industries.”
Compared to other large business areas, Neves argues the ICT segment has been making great strides in environmental initiatives.
“We have been doing a lot in our industry, actually, I think we could be a role model for any industry sector,” he enthused. “First of all, there is no other industry sector that can show an enabling impact. So if you think about cement, steel, all those industries are heavy industries, they cannot show what I call a net positive impact.”
“In our case, we can do that and we can do that through cutting-edge technologies,” the expert noted. “We are seeing all those improvements scaling up year-to-year and these are the innovations that we [as an industry] are bringing to the market, that companies like Huawei are bringing to the market, which are really helping the market to be more efficient.”
Looking forward, GeSI is working on its Digital with Purpose report focused on the positive societal and environmental impact of digital technology in a bid to showcase the industry as being key for a better world.
Watch the full video interview here.
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