Sustainability in the Tech Sector

Time to Prioritise Sustainability and the Tech Sector

As we face a climate emergency and it is now essential to prioritise sustainability, and the Tech sector has a significant role to play. The current context for climate and sustainability is critical, and the Tech sector cannot afford to ignore it.

Ireland's Climate Action Plan outlines how the country can become carbon-neutral by 2050. The plan includes ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors, including the Tech sector. The plan aims to reduce Ireland's carbon footprint by 51% by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Achieving these targets will require significant contributions from the Tech sector.

The plan also includes specific targets for the Tech sector, such as reducing data center energy consumption by 30% by 2030. This target is crucial as data centers consume vast amounts of energy, and their energy consumption is expected to increase significantly in the coming years.

The Tech sector has a significant role to play in contributing to sustainability in other ways. The sector can reduce its carbon footprint by implementing sustainable practices in its operations, such as reducing energy consumption, using renewable energy sources, and adopting circular economy principles.

Measuring a company’s carbon footprint

To reduce their carbon footprint, companies in the Tech sector must first measure it. Measuring carbon emissions requires collecting data on energy consumption, travel, and other activities that contribute to emissions.  This requires a comprehensive approach that considers all aspects of a company's operations.  This includes both direct and indirect carbon emissions.  It includes anything that is linked to an organisation’s operations that are not controlled or owned, such as the entire supply chain, business and employee travel, waste generated, purchased materials and goods, office technology, assets, investments, as well as consumer use of your products and services.

Circularity in the design and innovation process

Circular economy principles are essential for creating a sustainable future. The circular economy is a model that aims to eliminate waste and maximize the use of resources. In the Tech sector, circularity can be achieved by designing products that are easy to repair and reuse and using sustainable materials in their production.

To incorporate circularity into the design and innovation process of hardware, Tech companies must consider the entire product life cycle, from design to disposal. They must design products that can be easily repaired and repurposed, reducing the need for new products. Additionally, tech companies must use sustainable materials in their production and implement sustainable practices in their supply chains.

Optimising energy consumption

There are a number of steps that the Tech sector can take to make the it more sustainable and energy-efficient. One of the most important steps is to optimize energy consumption in data centers and other tech infrastructure. This can be done through the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, and the implementation of energy-efficient technologies.

Software developers have a key role to play in creating more environmentally-friendly software. By optimising code, using energy-efficient hardware, reducing resource usage, using virtualization, and designing for scalability, they can help reduce the carbon footprint throughout the software lifecycle by optimising sustainable software practices.

Putting sustainability into strategic planning

To prioritise sustainability, companies in the Tech sector must incorporate it into their strategic planning. Sustainability should be a core part of a company's mission and vision, and it should be reflected in its goals and objectives. Companies must also consider the impact of their operations on the environment and society and develop strategies to mitigate negative impacts.

To put sustainability into strategic planning, companies must first assess their current sustainability practices and identify areas for improvement. Companies can then develop a sustainability plan that includes goals and objectives for reducing their carbon footprint and promoting sustainability in their operations.

Regulations for sustainability in Ireland

Regulations play a crucial role in promoting sustainability in the Tech sector. In Ireland, companies must comply with regulations such as the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 and the EU's Circular Economy Package. These regulations set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting circular economy principles.

Companies must understand and comply with these regulations to avoid penalties and promote sustainability in their operations. Additionally, companies can go beyond compliance and set more ambitious sustainability targets to promote environmental and social sustainability.

Conclusion and the call to action for the Tech sector

It is time for the Tech sector to prioritise climate sustainability in its products and services.  There are now ambitious targets in Ireland's Climate Action Plan for the Tech sector in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  If you're interested in learning more about sustainability in the Tech sector check out our upcoming workshop - Sustainability in Tech - Awareness Workshop for Execs – April 20th at The Metropole Hotel, Cork.

Delivered by Change by Degrees facilitators Dr. Tara Shine and Madeleine Murray (