We Are a Solutions Sector

Christopher Hankin photo

In his blog on Thursday, ITI’s Dean Garfield quoted comments made by Google’s Eric Schmidt at the “How Green Is the Internet?” summit that we attended that day.  Now, you can view Eric’s full comments as well as all the plenary remarks from the event.  They are here, along with a two-minute overview video that gives testimony to the energy and intelligence that permeated the event.   

We also produced two quick videos of our own while at Google, though my interviewing skills aren’t going to give the TV anchors any fear for their jobs!   We asked Joyce Dickerson of Google about the event and their objectives in hosting it, and then asked Stanford’s Jon Koomey and Microsoft’s Mark Aggar to provide their thoughts on our sector’s contributions to future sustainability efforts.  Check them out.

Readers may have noticed today’s release of the new International Energy Agency (IEA) world energy outlook special report, “Redrawing the Climate Map.”  I admit I have not read yet all 100+ pages, but I am a bit underwhelmed by the four policy recommendations featured in the executive summary.  The IEA presents its “4-for-2” scenario, proposing the “implementation of four policy measures that can help keep the door open to the two degrees Celsius target through to 2020 at no net economic cost.”  These four policies are:

  • Adopting specific energy efficiency measures (49% of the emissions savings);
  • Limiting the construction and use of the least-efficient coal-powered power plants (21%);
  • Minimizing methane (CH4) emissions from upstream oil and gas production (18%); and,
  • Accelerating the (partial) phase-out of subsidies to fossil-fuel consumption (12%).

My let down is with the first bullet.  Energy efficiency is vital, and deserves to be listed first.  However, the specific measures that the IEA recommends highlight the imposition of government component efficiency standards.  Such old-think!  We have entered a new world of networked systems, with the internet of things providing vast new potential for energy efficiencies.  Yet, the IEA seems still captured by the old world of stand-alone components.

The messages from the Google summit were so much different.  Internet-enabled solutions promise much more efficiency, and governments should focus on how to help better unleash this potential.  To paraphrase Ericsson’s Elaine Weidman-Grunewald’s remarks at the end of Google’s overview video, we are a solutions sector, and we’re very optimistic about that.

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