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Data: The Unsung Hero in the Fight Against Climate Change

By Dick Weisinger

In the face of climate change, a silent revolution is taking place. Data, often overlooked, is emerging as a powerful weapon in this battle. From identifying harmful emissions to pinpointing pressure points along the supply chain, data is helping us tackle the problem head-on.

The transformative change in data capabilities, referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), is making waves in the climate change arena. For instance, California has launched a satellite capable of detecting the “point source” of climate pollutants, and monitoring leaks and other anomalies at specific locations. This initiative, in collaboration with San Francisco-based Earth imaging company, Planet Labs, is an example of local action tackling a global problem.

Emerging climate technologies are aiding in the collection of better data. Remote sensing technologies, AI-driven models, and Internet of Things devices are just a few examples. These technologies are integrating climate-related data into decision-making strategies, informing both short and long-term actions.

The implications of these advancements are profound. By 2030, the digital sector could cut global emissions in half, driving exponential growth in data performance. Moreover, climate technologies that are already mature could deliver about 60 percent of the emissions abatement needed to stabilize the climate by 2050.

However, the journey is not without challenges. Companies face a data problem and a data-driven decision-making problem. The past is no longer a reliable predictor of the future, and businesses have considerable knowledge gaps as they set and operationalize their strategies.

Looking ahead, we can expect more breakthroughs. New estimates reveal that digital technologies, at scale, can enable up to a 20% reduction by 2050 in the three highest-emitting sectors—energy, mobility, and materials. As these technologies mature and become more widespread, their impact will only grow.

Data is not just a tool; it’s a game-changer in our fight against climate change. As we harness the power of data and technology, we are not only mitigating the risks associated with climate change but also paving the way for a sustainable future.

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