Using Sustainable Data to Reach Net Zero

Julia Esgate Christmas

For the third session of the day at Government Data, the virtual summit, John Higgins CBE, President at The Chartered Institute for IT (BCS) joined us to discuss using sustainable data to reach net zero. John’s session covered a wide variety of topics, from using data to tackle climate change, environmentally friendly day to day practices and updates on the Greening Government Paper. 

John discussed the recent Glasgow Cop Usi26 Summit, in which they discovered that although the governing bodies have a huge amount of data on the topic of climate change, there is not enough data available to understand the impact on climate change fully. With 60,000 members, the BCS feel that they have a ‘duty to try and resolve this, with the challenge of how to use this data wisely, and work out the solutions we want to adopt in order to achieve net zero goals’. He further stated that ‘investing in using data and growing the future of data sciences is vital to understand the impact of climate change’. 

Regarding doing our part in day-to-day practices, John felt that although it’s important to continue doing our bit ‘reading the labels in the supermarket… keeping our devices for longer’, he felt it was key to switch our focus to large organisations to ensure they’re doing their part to help reach net zero. John noted that these larger organisations need to have ‘commitments towards net zero and then having programs to help achieve it, based on clear analysis of the data they’re presented with’. According to research conducted by the BCS, ‘just over 43% of the world's 600 largest public businesses have net zero commitment, so that means over half don't’. Further on this those who have identified commitments, ‘only 600 of these large businesses have clear plans to do so’.  

John then moved on to consider making more energy efficient devices and encouraging software engineers (especially those who are members of BCS) to make software that is more energy efficient. He further explains that larger companies have opportunities to do this, and also to relocate their data centres to colder climates, but notes that smaller companies and SMEs may not have the funds to do this, and more research needs to be undertaken to figure out more ways to ensure their data is sustainable.  

John’s session continued with research from the Royal Society Digital and Technology Reports, and how digital and technology can vastly improve many sectors across the UK and globally. 

John’s full session is available to watch below, and if you enjoyed this session, you can find out more about Government Data, co-located with GovTech and Quantum Advantage Summit here.