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Enabling Sustainability through Cloud : Zero Waste, Zero Emissions and Zero Inequality

Just a few weeks ago a scientific report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – or IPCC – made it very clear: human activity is changing the climate in unprecedented and irreversible ways. The report called climate change a “code red for humanity”, saying that unless we act now, we are heading for a catastrophe. We are not short of evidence that we are, indeed, heading for a catastrophe. The amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere is at the highest level in more than 4 million years.  2020 was the joint warmest year globally and the last six years were the warmest on record. In another 7 years, global warming could be irreversible.  We have very little time to act.

It goes without saying that sustainability is no longer a buzzword but has rather become a strategic focus area for companies, Governments, and society at large. Today, CEOs are making it a strategic priority. Investors now integrate ESG into investment decisions. Consumers are making clear shifts to more sustainable products and services. And employees are making career choices based on their employer’s responsibility towards the planet. Business leaders need to do much more than just manage their top and bottom lines to keep investors happy; they are increasingly being held accountable for the way they are managing their “green line” to reduce the carbon footprint across their business

India is on a remarkable growth path. With a plan to reduce India emissions intensity of its GDP by 35 percent before 2030, there is considerable work that lies ahead. Our government is a true ambassador of leading this change and has been guiding a series of plans, programs and initiatives. India’s move to generate 450 GW renewable energy by 2030 is one step in that direction.

At this point, it is important to mention the role of technology, software companies and the industry-government collaboration in addressing the issues of sustainable development. Information Technology companies have the dual responsibilities of ‘Green IT’ as well as ‘IT for Green’.

The aim is the digital enablement of the realization of the dream of zero emissions, zero waste, and zero inequality. On the zero emissions, we all know we cannot manage what we cannot measure. It is important that companies understand their own carbon data – and have the tools to reduce it. Through technology solutions consumers and companies get full transparency and a detailed analysis of their carbon footprint – down to the product level. Now, let’s look at Zero Waste. The linear economy is based on a take-make-waste model. The flipside is a circular economy which is all about reusing, resharing, repairing, remanufacturing and recycling to eliminate the creation of waste, pollution and carbon emissions. A circular economy is not just about fixing environmental wrongs. It can bring big opportunities and drive positive impact across industries, sectors, and lives. And our third zero – zero Inequality i.e., diversity, equity and inclusion; social and inclusive entrepreneurship; Skilled and inclusive workforce; and health and well-being – because the best-run businesses start with healthy people and a caring culture.

When we talk about cloud for sustainability, a report published by Accenture strategy highlights that migrations to the public cloud can reduce CO2 emissions by 59 million tons per year which equates to taking 22 million cars off the road. Cloud technologies can contribute to the sustainability journey in multiple ways. First is contribution through Green IT. The cloud platforms are more energy efficient with lower carbon emissions. Virtualization can help reduce the need for carbon -emitting equipment as well as help in minimization of e-waste. Needless to say, cloud computing provides robust, scalable and secure infrastructure for companies to innovate new solutions in the sustainability domain. This can propel the innovation engine for newer solutions in sustainability. Remote asset management of renewables over cloud is one such example. Cloud providers also provides the opportunity for business leaders to focus on business challenges rather than management of energy efficiencies and related aspects.

The opportunity to unlock greater financial, societal, and environmental benefits is likely to become a key differentiator using cloud-based technologies for innovation and growth. It’s important that the focus on strategic areas of infrastructure, standards, work organization and design and skilling in cloud technologies paves the foundation for a sustainable growth.

 

Author:

Dr Lovneesh Chanana

Vice President- Government Affairs, Asia- Pacific and Japan, SAP

As Vice President for Government Affairs, Dr. Lovneesh Chanana is responsible for driving the public policy and thought leadership engagements for SAP with Government and other stakeholders. His domain of responsibilities covers engagements related to policies such as cloud, IoT, cyber security etc. and key programs including digital India, make in India, Industry 4.0, smart cities, start-up India and skill India. He is also responsible for strategic public sector business support.

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