The upcoming 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) comes at unprecedented times when the world is grappling with the impacts of Covid-19. Towards the end of the year, nations will be renewing their commitment towards fulfilling the objectives of the Paris Agreement. They will be zeroing in on increasing climate action, building global resilience and lowering carbon emissions. The impact of Coronavirus has caused rapid shifts in the battle against climate change as well as the planning of the COP26. The planning will be reinforced by technological advancements that have proved that hybrid interactions where individuals and states can meet both physically and virtually is indeed possible. The place of technology in combating climate change is however inconsistent because, whereas technology is of paramount importance in combating the effects of climate change, it is also a primary contributor to the climate menace.
Technology has been one of the main contributors to the climate crisis in the world. Looking at the kind of automotives on land, sea and air that has enhanced globalisation and coupling them with the number of humans using them, there is an increased amount of carbon emissions. The Center for Biological Diversity estimates that in America, the transport sector alone accounts for more than a third of the country’s climate-changing emissions. This is the same situation in Kenya as well as in the other nations in the world. The negative repercussions of technology in the global climate cannot be underestimated.
Technological advancements are however an important factor that nations will need to take into account while renewing their commitment to combating climate change during the COP26. There is a need for a massive change in technology patterns within states by for instance reducing demand for fossil energy, promoting research in climate technology, offering incentives for entrepreneurs involved in this sector as well as regional partnerships that will address the climate change crisis. This paradigm change will come through adoption of requisite policies for innovators and investors to generate and proliferate the adoption and diffusion of climate-friendly technologies as opposed to the existing ones.
In spite of the foregoing postulates, there still exists enormous gaps and opportunities in the field of technology and climate change, which calls for different actors to conduct research, development and demonstration of new initiatives on climate technology. This could be in mitigation areas like carbon capture, usage and storage, using alternative gases like hydrogen and adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency among other advancements that are yet to be exploited. In terms of adaptation mechanisms, innovators could look into more precise weather forecasting, resilience in crops, climate change insurance, forestalling the likelihoods of calamities like floods and innovations in communicable diseases among others.
State and non-state actors ought to form pavilions that will be geared towards converging technology into a focus area that is cognizant of climate change. Technology is dynamic, which means that new innovations will emerge each day. The innovations need to have an element of reducing carbon footprints as opposed to adding to the destruction of the ecosystem. This ranges from the production of the technologies, their usage and to their decomposition. The world ought to have green technology, similarly to how we have green energy.
To achieve these, financing institutions and development partners need to look at technology as a great opportunity to resolve the climate crisis. They therefore need to invest millions of dollars in innovations that are coming up in order to scale them from ideation to the social impact level. As the entrepreneurs create social impact, they will also be scaling towards commercialization because in the coming days, consumers too will be enlightened and will be looking at products that are deliberately making the world a better place for themselves as well as for future generations.
As COP26 draws by, the lessons of Covid-19 are fresh in that this will be a hybrid event that will combine both virtual and physical interactions. States therefore need to embed the concept of hybrid approach to solving global issues, predominantly climate change. Technology must be used to address the effects of climate change. Where it offers solid mitigation strategies that can reduce emissions, it should be adopted, and where the negative impacts are more, then alternatives should be sought. There is no silver bullet in combating the climate crisis, it remains a collective action from the individual to the state and global levels.
A redacted version of this article was first published on https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/health/health-science/article/2001422109/technology-a-problem-and-solution-to-climate-crisis