A new ITU/UN report has highlighted that frontier technologies such as AI, 5G and robotics are key components in the fight against climate change. Released to mark the occasion of Earth Day 2020, the report shows success in areas ranging from cutting emissions in cities to natural disaster risk reduction, smart water management, and precise climate monitoring.
The report looks into 8 different fields of innovation; Artificial intelligence (AI); Internet of Things (IoT); 5G; clean energy technology; digital twin; robotics; Space 2.0 technologies; and digitalization and Big Data.
ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao says that “COVID-19 has made clear that we are all interconnected and that our response must be collective, across countries and sectors and that information and communication technologies (ICTs) have an important role to play in accelerating solutions. How we respond to climate change, as one humanity, must follow the same principles.”
Intended as a call to action for governments, civil society, academia, the scientific community and the tech industry to join them, the UN agencies want to leverage such technologies to tackle the immediate climate crisis.
The report contains various case studies which investigate applications of frontier technologies and their ability to decrease air pollution levels, manage e-waste, support smart water and energy management, model ‘digital twin’ cities for disaster risk reduction, support smart agriculture and food security, and monitor the planet’s climate and biodiversity.
The report comes as an effort to achieve part of the UN’s Sustainable Development goals for 2030. This was announced in 2015. It emphasizes the importance of key frontier technologies which serves as a support for the achievement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and also, the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°c above pre-industrial levels.
It concludes with suggestions and recommendations for the rollout and adoption of these frontier technologies which encourage and enable us to plan for the future.
Frontier technologies are able to assist countries in moving on from economic and social activities that are considered detrimental and harmful to our environment. However, the report clarifies that these technologies are only part of the solution and that success in fighting climate change involves government support, the engagement of innovative stakeholders, global access to technological capabilities and applications of frontier technologies at the scale necessary to achieve the required global impact.