The first part of this opinion contribution was about taking stock: What is the current situation with the climate and the efforts of the ICT industry to contain climate change? The second part deals with the CO2-Neutrality resulting opportunities for the ICT service provider.
Until the end of the last millennium, I, too, as a participant in the telecommunications sector, pounded 240 things over the autobahn – after all, deadlines had to be met. Time is money! in the 1980s and 1990s, and even in the Millennium Decade, it was less about CO2-Saving; the zeitgeist preferred the computerization of economy and society. Until then the “Fridays for Future” movement emerged with all its might and got the climate stone rolling.
Now the trade press has also recognized the importance of the topic. And the tech industry is suddenly showing great interest in behaving sustainably. Companies who continue to damage the climate with their products will lose – those who can come up with green products and sustainable solutions will win. In this way, the transformation of the economy into climate neutrality that has already begun can be summed up.
Politics and business must see the climate crisis as an opportunity – not as a threatening job-destroying cost-horror scenario of the future. Because there is no shortage of financial resources, the right technical solutions are also there. There is simply a lack of implementation.
The “century of oil” is now finally a thing of the past and sticking to outdated and climate-damaging processes will destroy jobs in the short to medium term – instead of creating new ones. The Volkswagen Group, for example, had to determine this and responded – with 1,000 newly hired IT staff in a camp to make up for the AI failures compared to its competitor Tesla.
Because artificial intelligence has become a decisive acceleration factor for the transformation into a more climate-friendly world. This starts with the computer-controlled needs analysis, continues with the search for environmentally friendly new products and solutions, culminates in increasing the efficiency of the production by means of automation, also helps in the search for the most effective and environmentally friendly distribution channels and thus finds tailor-made solutions for everyone environmentally conscious customers.
Agricultural machines remotely controlled via AI optimize plant growth and reduce the use of toxic weedkillers considerably through targeted weed killing; AI optimizes energy consumption in mobility and in buildings, and so on: AI is the key to a faster transformation of our economy into an environmentally friendly and climate-neutral world.
No sector can contribute more to the development of climate neutrality than the tech and digital industries – see transformation to electromobility. The “electrification” of our economic systems goes hand in hand with the digitization of all branches and sectors. There are many opportunities in this, but also numerous risks. Cyber crime, for example, is increasingly replacing physical crimes, which is why the European ICT industry is required to establish and maintain internationally anchored IT security structures.
AI-controlled systems undoubtedly lead to improved energy efficiency – both in the networks of electricity suppliers and in private environments, where different energy sources lead to an optimal energy mix at different times and for different purposes.
At IFA 2020, the SmartHome Initiative Deutschland eV together with eQ-3 Homematic IP is a field test in which a simple and inexpensive, wirelessly installed smart home system with integrated heating control in a one-family house or in a comparable apartment can save around a quarter of energy costs on average.
The knowledge gained from this resulted in the “Citizen CO2-Project“Everyone can go to the CO immediately there2– Contribute to reduction. In the building sector in particular, the CO2-Emissions have so far been largely neglected by politicians – although buildings with around 40 percent have a higher CO2-Leave a footprint as the entire mobility industry, which is responsible for a footprint of around 33 percent.
The connectivity of all possible household, entertainment and communication devices on the one hand and smart air conditioning, lighting and security control processes on the other hand is a challenge for every user – because the technology is very complex. Therefore, first and foremost, specialist dealers and system integrators are in demand here, for whom these new fields of activity are ideal. These ICT service providers can score points with customers with consulting, configuration and installation services.
The digital networking of apartments, buildings, even entire cities in connection with the new mobile world controlled via the Internet and AI forms the basis of the new, exciting formula of the tech industries.
As the summers get hotter, room cooling systems join the energetically optimized heating systems. Many ICT, electrical and smart home / smart building companies find a long-lasting and lucrative field of activity here. And the potential here is huge: Only 20 percent of the well over 22 million buildings in Germany are already equipped with smart heating and cooling systems.
That is why the tech industries in particular should see the climate crisis as an opportunity and not as a horror scenario that must be fended off. The costs of the transformation into climate neutrality are high, but if these measures are not taken, the costs will be many times higher – and that in just a few years.
The transformation into a digital, modern and environmentally friendly society is primarily a political task: The authorities must set the course for the economy as quickly as possible, because all companies urgently need planning security for the transformation into a sustainable economy. Only then can they plan long-term investments and manage a larger part of the transformation themselves financially, instead of burdening taxpayers as with the coal phase-out – even if state subsidies will be unavoidable in view of international competitiveness in some sectors, such as the steel industry.
Many companies are already rushing ahead: Apple, Bechtle, Bosch, Microsoft, Miele, Systeam – ICT distribution and retail are already developing excellent activities in the direction of climate neutrality. Increasingly, companies also want to know from the business partners they have networked with them how they are doing with sustainability and climate neutrality – and one or the other company would like to see environmental certification even before business initiation is possible. A trend that also acts as an acceleration factor.
Whereas in the past the brand image and the price-performance ratio determined the success of a product on the market, in the future it will primarily be climate and environmental criteria. However, we must not look at the transformation of our economy into a climate-neutral world in isolation. All SMEs and also private households have to participate.
The activities and initiatives of the ZVEI and the gfuwhose managing director Ms. Dr. Sara Warneke not only made the European Commission’s new energy label known to the industry in March 2021, but also made it easy to understand.
Due to the competition, many technological branches tend to compete with each other first of all – and neglect to pursue the aspects of technical and sales marketing potential and their synergies. Just think of the strictly separate fields of activity in the smart home / smart building sector: sanitary facilities, electrical installation, IT and telecommunications. The IoT technology (“Internet of Things”) could form the framework for these different trades.
The previously very narrow view of a specialist engineer and an entire (technical) industry sector is losing sight of the increasingly networked technologies and of the entire economy and society – whose trades must be brought together again in the now largely digitally networked world (IoT). These grown and hitherto strictly separated structures are likely to be the main reason why the smart home / smart building is progressing far too slowly. It is precisely these misalignments that are slowing down economic development in a climate-neutral world.
When it comes to climate change, we have to think outside the box – this is particularly true of the ICT industry, which now has to network much more deeply than before with all industries and authorities.
We can only win the “war” against the climate crisis if we all – politics, economy and society – immediately begin to exhaust all possible sustainable, climate and environmentally friendly technologies and possibilities, to prioritize our behavior and our awareness in the direction of climate prioritization change. This “greatest struggle for survival of all time” cannot be won half-heartedly – as the recent example of the Afghan government troops against the Taliban, which obviously did not really know what they were actually fighting for or against, has shown. The world after Corona will be completely different from before Corona – also due to the climate crisis.
More about Smart Home / Smart Building:
What Germans want
How system houses make buildings and apartments “smart”
The “intelligent” building control
System houses and IoT
Smart home setup made easy