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July 11, 2018

Policy Makers Can Harness Digital Innovations to Reduce Carbon Emissions

  • Industry
  • Energy

Scientific American — A digital revolution is sweeping the global energy sector. People frustrated by slow progress on combating climate change are cheering energy’s digitalization—the application of information and communications technologies to this sector. Advances in artificial intelligence and computing power, the falling cost of digital equipment such as sensors, and internet connectivity are transforming the way energy is produced, transported and consumed. Tantalizing signs indicate that digital innovations could help the global economy decarbonize—reduce emissions of greenhouse gases—by promoting cleaner energy sources and reducing wasteful energy use.

Digitalization, however, is a double-edged sword. That is the conclusion of 14 expert authors in a new book, Digital Decarbonization, published on June 25, 2018, by the Council on Foreign Relations. They argue that digital innovations could just as readily increase our use of fossil fuels and raise emissions. They also note that other risks will accompany the advances, including heightened threats of cyberattacks on the power grid and breaches of personal data privacy. Thus, public policies are needed to steer digital technologies toward speeding a clean energy transition while mitigating the risks.

Read more at Scientific American.

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