Glasgow is the centre of the world for a wee while because of COP26. Even President Biden wants to come if his missus will let him. The big climate change challenge in the not so many years ahead, when you come to think about it, is meeting net zero emissions targets.
Net zero. It represents the greenhouse gas holy grail, if you will, that each and everyone of us have a part to play towards achieving neutrality in terms of carbon dioxide discharges – labelled our 'carbon footprint' – in practically all sectors including energy production, agriculture, general industry and transport systems.
The term 'net zero' is increasingly used to describe a much broader and more comprehensive commitment towards a de-carbonisation in ongoing climate action, moving beyond mere carbon neutrality. Innumerable initiatives depend on individuals, businesses and entire states reducing their carbon footprint, towards achieving a state of climate neutrality.
It's all very wordy, I think you'll agree. A weakness is that, apparently, there is currently no overall international certification for carbon or climate neutrality, although some countries do have national certifications schemes which is something, I guess.
The trouble is that this doesn't necessarily auger well for a worldwide agreement in Glasgow. But what's new, given the accepted intransigence of big carbon defaulters like China, Russia, and the US? At least the latter is attempting, it appears, to seriously curb emissions. However, given the state of polarised US politics, it's probably bound to be a short-term attempt, despite Biden's good intentions.
It's here that advanced sustainable technologies come to the fore. Edinburgh technology company SICCAR's blogger, Dan Knight, points to 'intelligent energy grid systems' based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can prove vital towards increasing efficiency and reducing wasted energy across wide areas.
It's not just internal processes that organisations must alter to meet their net zero target. The environmental sustainability of all involved, such as suppliers in extensive and often globe-spanning supply chains, require to be audited. When new partners or suppliers are chosen from now on, the procurement process cannot, and must not, forget sustainability.
To be expected, this results in a huge, huge number of data sources to be accessed to track emissions: in healthcare, social care, emergency services, education and other public services, on which each and everyone of us rely every single day of our ever busy lives.
This does represent a snag. The British Medical Journal
reports that the health sector is 'drowning in data', where Covid has rewritten the rules in accessing and using patient information. It means that we shouldn't get carried away, leaving vital personal privacy in its wake, as we all strive to play our part in the carbon neutral road ahead.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has probably set the net zero drive into reverse. Yet, despite such anticipated drawbacks, from now on, it has to be about communicating and collaborating more efficiently. Our route must be backed up by expertly-programmed AI and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, while inextricably linked to national/global smart networks, to overcome the undoubtedly many obstacles in our way towards achieving a greener life all round.
The CivTech Alliance, formed in Scotland with members stretching from Portland, Oregon, to Australia's Victoria State, has emerged as a key component at COP26 in terms of its global climate change challenge.
Eighteen high-growth companies from nine countries are participating in a 'Scale-up Programme' wrapped around environmental resilience, food waste and decarbonisation of commercial vehicles.
The alliance is collaborating with the United Nations Development Programme, World Resources Institute, and the Michelin Scotland Innovation Park in Dundee. The selected companies will participate in a series of online or in-person showcase auditorium events to investors and governments during COP26.
The summit kicks-off on 1 November until the 12th, when a series of hybrid events under the umbrella 'Climate Innovation in Action' showcase both Scottish and international case studies all about how the public sector works with business to develop solutions to the climate crisis.
The CivTech Alliance 'Scale-up Programme' works with governments and academic institutions from Australia, Brazil, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, United States, Denmark and Spain. It doesn't end with the summit, for the selected companies then embark on a six-month field test exercise on their global solutions.
COP26 in Glasgow is being viewed as the most significant climate event since the 2015 Paris Agreement, which was the first-ever universal, legally-binding global climate change agreement. Then, the treaty was adopted by 196 parties to the UN framework convention, agreeing to limit global warming to well below two degrees centigrade, plus pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees centigrade.
Fingers crossed for Glasgow...
Former Reuters, Sunday Times, The Scotsman and Glasgow Herald business and finance correspondent, Bill Magee is a columnist writing tech-based articles for Daily Business, Institute of Directors, Edinburgh Chamber and occasionally The Times' 'Thunderer'