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Digitization must be developed in sustainable way, official says

2023-08-30author:source:China Daily

Digitalization needs to be developed in a green way while supporting the sustainable growth of green development, leading experts said on Tuesday during the annual general meeting of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development.


Liu Shijin, former deputy president of the Development Research Center of the State Council and also Chinese chief adviser at the CCICED, said that digitalization and green initiatives are inseparable.


Digital solutions play a pivotal role in various aspects of green development including green consumption, production, circulation, innovation and institutional construction, he said.


Extensive literature reviews underscore the potential of digital technologies and tools in facilitating climate adaptation efforts, according to a CCICED report released in June called Digitalization and Green Technologies for Sustainable Development.


Digital tools assist in making long-term climate adaptation plans and predicting and addressing immediate climate-related hazards, the report said.


China's meteorological authorities have made significant progress in extreme weather forecasting and risk management systems, employing artificial intelligence technologies to enhance accuracy.


Tomas Anker Christensen, Denmark's climate ambassador, said that in Denmark, they are testing whether artificial intelligence can support flood forecasting and other measures that have both mitigation and adaptation impacts.


"It is important to see the green requirements of digital solutions. And it is important for both government and business to create demand and utilization for these," he said.


Luo Hui, director of international affairs at the China Association for Science and Technology, said that the digital platform and system of environmental monitoring and protection have made Ordos of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region stand out in treating desertification with digital tools.


"The development of digital technology provides a new solution for low-carbon transformation. Green development and digitalization support each other, and collaboration of the two will be an inevitable choice to realize sustainable development goals," she said.


"The science community should work together to build consensus and promote common progress and sustainable development of mankind through open trust and cooperation in science and technology," she said.


Countries should work together around the cutting-edge key technologies of digital greening to promote the realization of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, she added.


However, digitalization must be developed in an efficient and low-carbon way, said Liu.


New sectors have witnessed substantial growth, particularly in data centers, cloud computing, big data and the internet of things, all of which contributed 307 billion yuan ($42.1 billion) of business revenue in China last year, a growth rate of 32.4 percent compared to the previous year, the CCICED report said.


However, the rapid expansion of digital infrastructure and facilities increases the pressure to reduce carbon emissions. Proper disposal of discarded digital infrastructure and equipment is essential to prevent adverse effects on soil and the environment.


Digital businesses face mounting challenges in minimizing carbon footprints caused by emissions from greenhouse gas sources, energy consumption and factors like office spaces, employee commuting, business travel and supply chains. These challenges necessitate measures toward greener practices within the digital industry, and companies must prioritize environmentally sustainable operations and supply chains to mitigate carbon emissions, the report said.

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