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, increasing the lifetime of a smartphone by just 1 year is equivalent to removing 1 million cars from our roads. Switching from 4G to 5G networks reduces energy consumption by 90%. And, if 40% of the workforce teleworks for two days a week we can reduce CO2 emissions by 5.2 million tonnes.
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.