From commitments to action: Assessing the effectiveness of pan-European policies and regulations for the green digital transformation

21 Jun 2022 10:30h - 11:30h

Session webpage

Event report

Moderated by Mr Ross Creelman (Public Policy Manager, ETNO), the workshop reflected on good practices within the EU and discussed enabling the green digital transition. 

Ms Almut Nagel (Green Digital Transformation – Policy Officer, DG-Connect, European Commission) shared her impression that the ‘narratives of the green ICT and the ICT for Green are getting together slowly but steadily’. She noted that the green transition and digital transformation are two different areas, an idea also backed by other participants. Ms Alexandra Lutz (Parliamentary Assistant for MEP David Cormand, Greens/EFA) added that while the former is critical for the preservation of biodiversity and our societies, the digital transition is more of a tool and not an end in itself. She said that we are currently at a crossroads where every decision we will take now will have consequences for decades to come. It is, therefore, important to ensure that digital transformation contributes to the sustainability of economic, ecological, and social goals, as highlighted by Nagel. 

Lutz also stressed the need for a common methodology regarding how we account for the emissions and other environmental consequences of digital technologies, so that we can look at the entire lifecycle of any digital product. She also noted the need to step out of focusing on GHG emissions to include environmental factors at large, such as water and other resources, in order to achieve a good transition.

Ms Michelle Thorne (Sustainable Internet Lead, Mozilla Foundation) shared some data showing that the emissions from people using the Firefox browser accounted for 98% of Mozilla’s emissions; this data changed Mozilla’s perspective and reinforced the need for modelling emissions and accounting for them. Thorne, therefore, highlighted the need to discuss how better to harmonise the greenhouse gas reporting for digital products and make it mandatory to report on all scales. The reporting on this data should not be hidden in a PDF. It has to be human and machine-readable. 

Thorne also stressed the need for open approaches by bringing up the example of having users pay licensing fees to use models for calculating emissions. Every company should be able to calculate emissions without great expense. 

Finally, Lutz pointed out the need to empower consumers in the green transition and eliminate the system that ‘pushes people to always buy something new’ instead of repairing products. In this regard, Thorne highlighted the importance of being able to modify and extend the life of digital products via software.