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The tech to fight climate change is already here – now it needs urgent investment and support

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Technology is way down on their list of priorities: ‘My community, especially indigenous women and girls, can’t access phones and tech gadgets— we can’t afford them and we’re still battling with the challenge of getting enough food.

‘Social media technology has taken over almost everything and is the main way of reaching out to people. Since our people can’t access this technology, some of our needs and challenges are not being reported. ‘

Faith said she would like to see better access to green technology, such as solar panels. ‘It would mean our people wouldn’t be cutting down trees for firewood, which is something that we still use in our homes. There also wouldn’t be the fumes that affect our women’s health.’

Her message to the leaders of the western worlds was simple: listen to what we have to say and give us a place at the table. ‘There’s a need for inclusion, for women, for youth in our countries, because we are worried that this is something that will still affect us in the future, as we are more vulnerable to climate change. If our people were represented here, I believe there’s so much that could be changed on the ground.’

International technological collaboration

The 10th day of the summit was on the themes of gender, science and technology. The member states discussed the expansion of international technology collaboration to implement Article 10 of the Paris Agreement. Several nations, including Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Spain and the United States, announced funding commitments to support the work of the UN Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) — the implementation arm of the Technology Mechanism.

The meeting, hosted by the UK COP Presidency and the Chilean and Danish governments, focused on supporting developing countries to access technologies for both low-carbon and climate-resilient development. Government representatives discussed the need to prepare the necessary policy and regulatory foundations to support widespread technology innovation and deployment in developing countries. Building the capacity of skilled workforces to install and maintain green technologies was also highlighted as a key priority.

John Booth, Vice Chair of the BCS Green IT specialist group was disappointed by the outcome of the summit and said what is needed is system reboot when it comes to tech: ‘With respect to the technology companies, actions speak louder than words and their words ring hollow at this moment in time.

‘When it comes to data centres, for all the rhetoric, continuing to build new facilities globally to 20th century designs, when we should be having a radical rethink, is just business as usual.

‘The tech and concepts to deliver truly energy efficiency and sustainable data centres is well developed and ready to go, it’s time for the operators and investors to re-educate their customers and start to build them.’

BCS at COP26

BCS were invited to take part in an event organised by OpenUK, who campaign for open source software, open source hardware and open data. OpenUK had their own venue, on the perimeter of COP26 itself inside an enormous inflatable igloo. Dr Jon Chippindall, primary school teacher and Community Outreach Manager for the BCS backed teachers network Computing at School, gave a demonstration of Barefoot teaching resources. He said: ‘I was really excited to talk about what the teachers and primary school pupils have been doing with the Barefoot Climate Champions resources. Pupils make their own planet pledges about what they are going to do to tackle climate change and share them.’ He also filmed some of the high-level experts at the OpenUK event, asking them questions posed by the children at his school about what practical steps can be taken by all of us when it comes to reducing our tech carbon footprint.

The reality of COP26

There were two main sites at COP26 itself. There was the Green Zone at the Glasgow Science Centre which had over 100 exhibitors and 200 events where the public had the chance to listen, learn and celebrate climate action.

The main business of the summit took place in the Blue Zone at the Scottish Events Campus which played host to around 30,000 delegates, journalists, heads of state and their negotiating teams.

Within the security cordon of the madly busy Blue Zone, the great and the good gave their keynote speeches. Around the venue there was a bewildering array of fringe presentations — ranging from Nordic climate neutrality; decarbonisation pathways for Brazil through to Formula E: accelerating sustainable human progress through the power of electric racing.

The overall impression was that there were a lot of people, countries, and organisations all enthusiastically hoping that their ideas and innovations could hold the key to stopping climate change. According to the environmental pressure group, Global Witness, there were also more than 500 lobbyists linked to major oil and gas companies, a larger number than the delegation of any single nation.

At the close of the summit, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the planet was ‘hanging by a thread.’

‘We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe… it is time to go into emergency mode — or our chance of reaching net zero will, itself, be zero.’


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