During the Digital Decade, Europe faces two important challenges: the green transition and the digital transition.
These might seem like two distinct issues, but really, they are twin challenges: neither can succeed without the other. And, they are both equally important for Europe’s future.
Bringing digital into our lives is helping us reduce our carbon footprint. We can join videoconferences rather than traveling to meetings, monitor how much energy our homes are consuming, and even boost sustainability in farming.
However, we need to ensure that digital technologies do not consume more energy than they save. At present, digital technologies account for between 8-10% of our energy consumption, and 2-4% of our greenhouse gas emissions – small percentages but big numbers.
We can make a number of changes in our digital lives to reduce our environmental impact in this area. For example, extending the lifetime of all smartphones by just 1 year would save 2.1 Mt CO2 per year by 2030, equivalent to removing 1 million cars from our roads. Switching from 4G to 5G networks can reduce energy consumption by up to 90%.
The EU is researching these opportunities and more. It will update existing laws and introduce new measures to achieve our green and digital goals for the next decade. One such measure is ensuring data centres are climate neutral, energy-efficient and sustainable by 2030 at the latest.
The EU is also exploring voluntary and binding measures to help the private sector become climate neutral and use more renewable resources, such as the European Green Digital Coalition.