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Technologies are key tools in the battle against climate change

Technologies are key tools in the battle against climate change

 Niall Dunne, Chief Sustainability Officer at BT Group

28 August 2015


Marking #100daysToParis, we are pleased to hear from guest blogger Niall Dunne, who shares his views on both BT’s responsibilities and opportunities when it comes to climate change. BT is a member of The Prince of Wales's Corporate Leaders Group.

BT is one of the world’s largest communications services providers. Millions of people use our services every day. We connect families, friends, communities, local businesses, public services and big multinational corporations right around the globe.

So we have a responsibility, and a huge opportunity, to help improve lives and ways of doing business and make better use of our planet’s resources. At BT, we’re proud that our technologies are part of the solutions to the challenges of climate change.

We’re determined that communications technology is recognised for its vital role in this challenge. Information and communication technology (ICT) has changed how we operate in the world so completely, becoming absorbed into our every day, that it’s too easy to overlook the massive innovations for social, economic and environmental good that it has helped achieve and continues to realise for the future. At the climate change negotiations in Paris in 100 days’ time, the world’s leaders of nations, business and civil society have the opportunity to acknowledge, and therefore harness, the collective power that the ICT sector presents.

The SMARTer2030 report by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative identifies the potential for a near 20 per cent cut in CO2 emissions by 2030 all made possible by the smarter use of digital technologies such as networked sensors, smart grids, smartphones and mobile applications.

Yet this is not just good for people and planet. SMARTer2030 shows how this makes sound economic sense at the same time  that ICT could generate more than $6 trillion of additional revenue alongside $5 trillion in cost-saving opportunities by 2030.

We work with partners to measure our carbon impact end-to-end, calculating the carbon emissions from our suppliers and customers, as well as our own operations. This informs our 2020 ambition to help customers cut their carbon emissions by at least three times the end-to-end carbon impact of our business.

The climate challenge is massive and we recognise that no single organisation can solve the challenges in isolation. That’s why our carbon footprinting methodology is publicly available for collaboration and adaptation. That’s also why we power our UK operations with 100 per cent renewable energy, are working to expand our use of renewable electricity globally and are calling for others organisations to do the same.

The role of ICT needs to be recognised, both independently and in its role as part of the solution for many sustainable development issues. Increased connectivity and more powerful processing are helping us understand the impact we are having on our world as well as helping us develop ever more innovative ways of living and working more sustainably.

ICT is also democratising the debates, taking the conversations beyond the physical boundaries of the official chambers to meaningful dialogues with people in every walk of life. We know climate change matters to people. There is a huge opportunity to get this right. 

As conscious collaborators and catalysts we call on governments around the world to deliver a progressive actionable outcome at the climate negotiations in Paris this year, to embrace the power of communications technology to make a real difference, and build a resilient future together. 

About the author

Niall Dunne

Our guest blogger Niall Dunne works with BT’s Chief Executive, Chairman and executive management team to use the power of communications to make a better world. Niall is a passionate advocate of technology’s ability to create new systems for growth which can sustain and empower our world. He speaks regularly on the critical need for more purposeful business leadership and how this is reflected in BT’s own corporate strategy. 

Niall is a Non-Executive Director of Collectively, the digital media platform that inspires and empowers people to live more sustainable lives. A World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, Niall has been vice chair of the WEF Global Agenda Council on Sustainable Consumption and is currently on the GAC on Climate Change which will develop innovative ways to accelerate a global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Follow Niall on Twitter at @bluNiall.


BT is a member of The Prince of Wales's Corporate Leaders Group. The Corporate Leaders Group helps business to reach their sustainability goals and partnership with policymakers to rewire our economy for low carbon transition, eliminate carbon emissions and increase resilience and efficiency.

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Guest articles on the blog do not necessarily represent the views of, or endorsement by, the Institute or the wider University of Cambridge.