Climate experts are in agreement that we must all make radical changes to save our planet within the next decade – the time has come to act rather than talk. As the Primatologist and a champion of the natural world, Jane Goodall, once said: “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make”. The time has come to harness the resources we have at our disposal to make a difference and fast – and technology is our greatest tool for change.

As global leaders attempt to halt and hopefully even reverse climate change, technology will be key to combatting the considerable challenges that lie ahead. Data gathering technologies like the Internet of Things have the power to help us unlock ambitious efficiency and emissions targets. They empower organisations and ultimately society, to make sustainable choices with real-time actionable insights.

With COP26 now on our doorstep, focusing on the technologies that will drive the sort of changes we need is critical. With an uncertain future ahead, now more than ever we must use technology as a force for good – for all to benefit.

Innovative technologies are capable of doing much more than making our lives easier, they are already enabling greener business practices. From supporting more sustainable industrial practices, better stewardship of our natural resources, and conversion to renewable energy sources – the opportunity for innovation is ripe. They are driven by ESG policies and moon shot goals that are now a business imperative, with consumer awareness and concern about environmental impact growing.

Here are five ways technology is already putting sustainable practices into action – helping us to achieve environmental targets, as we collectively look to reduce climate change:

  1. The Working Environment: The ‘post coronavirus’ workplace offers greater flexibility and a better work/life balance for both business and employees. Working from home and meeting virtually also means less travel – something which accounts for around a quarter of global CO2 emissions, with the daily commute playing a key role in this. However, without technology, this option would not exist. Over the last 18 months, technology has proven its importance in providing critical connectivity. It is technology that is driving probably the biggest shift in working practice since the second world war, a shift that will have an important impact in combatting climate change.
  2. Fighting pollution with IoT: With new technologies also come new opportunities and these are impacting our domestic lives. IoT enables us to control the growing network of devices used in our everyday lives, helping us to make efficient choices. Whether it be heating, lighting or air-conditioning, we can now set specific operation times and shut off appliances remotely to reduce energy wastage. In UK cities, such as Bradford and Birmingham, they are even using IoT modular sensors to monitor air pollution in real-time – improving citizen health.
  3. The AI behind a greener transport industry: Out on the roads, AI and automotive technology is pushing advances at pace, with more efficient and eventually more affordable options emerging in the electric vehicles market. Charging points are now becoming much more available with some fuel and energy providers such as Shell building electricity charging “service stations” where no actual fuel is on offer. AI, effectively a simulation of human behaviour, has brought about the age of self-driving cars. Most are also electrically powered – creating a cleaner and smarter and more efficient mode of transport.
  4. Digital Twin Technology Powers Progress: Digital Twin technology, simply put provides a virtual model of a process, product or service, allowing businesses to monitor and test systems and head off problems before they even occur, to reduce waste and trim costs. These will play an important role as we look to protect our planet, adapt and prepare for extreme weather events.
  5. Food tech: Technology even impacts our diet. It’s a well-known fact that animal agriculture has a vast negative environmental footprint, with livestock farming accounting for 18% of human-produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. It contributes to land and water degradation, biodiversity loss, acid rain, coral reef degeneration and deforestation. Technology is helping businesses to create plant-based meat substitutes, in companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, giving consumers worldwide the opportunity to convert to a more sustainable diet and to make farming more efficient.

There are endless ways technology can help us live better, more sustainable lives. Now is the time to use it to our advantage, innovating for a healthier planet and brighter futures. This is just the beginning – tomorrow businesses need to plan, communicate and act. Embracing technological advances is a win, win situation.