Global leaders must put data scientists and broader digital skills at the centre of their climate change ambitions, the professional body for information technology reports.

As COP27 begins, Rashik Parmar MBE FBCS, Group CEO of BCS The Chartered Institute for IT says: ‘World leaders must understand we can only achieve net zero with the help of digital technologies and – crucially – scientists, engineers and managers with the right skills.

‘We need a global talent pool of data science professionals to help us understand what the data is saying, supported by universal data standards that build trust and confidence.

‘In addition to these specialists, all organisations need people with the digital skills to commission, build and manage carbon accounting and carbon removal systems and embed them into everyday business practice.

‘IT Leaders should continue to do everything they can to minimise the environmental impact of IT and use frameworks like responsiblecomputing.net to do that.’

Technology’s place

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who is at the climate change summit in Egypt, will announce a further £65.5 million for the clean energy innovation facility which provides grants to researchers and scientists in developing countries working on clean technologies – from biomass-powered refrigeration in India to lithium-ion batteries in Nigeria.

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He has urged leaders assembled at the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh not to ‘backslide’ on commitments made at last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow intended to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C (2.7F) above pre-industrial levels.

A BCS survey of technology professionals before COP26 found that 64% believed the workforce lacked the digital skills to achieve net zero; 61% were not confident digital technologies were being used effectively in the fight against climate change.

According to The Royal Society’s 2020 report, Digital technology, and the planet: Harnessing Computing, ‘to achieve net zero nearly a third of the 50 per cent carbon emissions reductions the UK needs to make by 2030 could be achieved through existing digital technology.’

As part of the National Engineering Policy Centre (NEPC), BCS has called for an economic recovery that pivots the UK towards net zero, rather than one that locks us into a high-carbon future.

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