The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26 is just wrapping up. Representatives from governments around the world have all got together to see what can be done to mitigate our impact on the climate. Because, if we don’t make drastic changes as a society, we’re heading for a climate disaster. We’re talking rising sea levels, with millions displaced, increasing natural disasters, disruption to our natural ecosystems that will mean drastically reduced resources and more.
We need to change how we operate at all levels of society, and one surprising way to do this is through the implementation of new telecommunications technologies.
In fact, a recent report from Ericsson has suggested that widespread adoption of 5G across just 4 sectors across Europe could lead to a reduction of Co2 emissions by 55–170Mt. This is equivalent to taking 1 in 7 cars off the road.
We were scratching our heads at first, but here’s how.
The report, titled “Connectivity and climate change – Examining the role of digital communications in combating climate change”, does just that. It looks at how our communications technology can play an important role in reducing emissions.
The report identifies 4 key sectors that could benefit from 5G technology to reduce emissions. They suggest several use cases of 5G that can be used to achieve this.
The report suggests sensor-driven efficiency improvements can be made for consumers of electricity. It also suggests we could save by deploying 5G sensors to make the distribution of renewable electricity more efficient. Finally, it looks at 5G deployment on renewables increasing the data we have on their utilization.
We’ve seen an increase in remote working during the pandemic. Increased 5G availability will make this more and more feasible. With the advent of VR and increasing investment in the metaverse, 5G will play an important role in limiting the amount of commuting needed.
The report also suggests 5G can help with improved truck utilization and we can increase public transport usage by providing 5G connectivity on public transport.
Regarding industry, the deployment of 5G sensors on industrial factories can dramatically reduce Co2, these sensors will enable much better power efficiency.
Finally in the building sector, we can reduce the number of new office blocks that need building by improving 5G availability, facilitating more remote/flexible working.
This is a non-exhaustive list of suggested use-cases for 5G in reducing Co2 emissions. However, with some thought, there are plenty of opportunities.
Recommendations Moving Forward
The report concludes with some suggestions that could help with the implementation of 5G and therefore the reduction in Co2 emissions that would bring.
- Increasing investment incentives
- Removing deployment obstacles and red-tape
- Remove regulatory uncertainty
- Incentivize small to medium sized businesses to adopt digital transformation
- Close the digital gap by funding rural 5G deployments.
Improvement in connectivity can lead to efficiency gains that will help us reach our ambitious climate targets.
No one solution will solve the climate crisis. However, rapid implementation of improved connectivity solutions that enable better power monitoring and utilization will be a fantastic step in the right direction.