While the negotiations are generating the headlines at the UN’s Climate Change Conference, there’s also a good deal of discussion on the role of technology in providing the means of achieving whatever targets are set. I had the opportunity to participate in a couple of events that were enlightening in content and set in a remarkable context.The Nordic representatives of seven major IT industry companies came to the realization several weeks ago that COP-15 would be the catalyst to bring together the environmental leads from all of their companies. And an idea was born to bring us all together for a debate on the role of technology in mitigating climate change. The event was kicked off by Danish Minister for Climate and Energy Lykke Friis and moderated by Professor Jacqueline McGlade, the Executive Director of the European Environment Agency. Professor McGlade was quite a departure from the normal industry discussion leader with very engaging questions and a great rapport with the audience. In addition to the usual discussion about smart grids, employee engagement and 2% (ICT’s carbon emissions) vs. 98% (other industries emissions that could be mitigated by use of technology) there were excellent discussions about how we can enable visualization of energy use and how capabilities such as telework could ultimately move system boundaries – i.e., if enough people work from home, ultimately we might need fewer roads, different communications infrastructure and evolved social networking tools. It was great company to be in – with leaders from Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Konica-Minolta and Microsoft – but the best part of the experience was the setting. Check out the “Old Stock Exchange” where the debate was held. We HAD to think big thoughts in such an environment! The other event that was especially memorable was a trade fair put on over the weekend called Bright Green and it was a testimony to the plethora of technology innovations available for energy efficiency, renewable energy and smarter society with exhibits from over 170 companies. And it was a very big deal with over 10,000 attendees and speeches given by the Danish Prime Minister, US Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and many others. It was even visited by royalty with a panel consisting of the Crown Princes of Denmark and Norway, along with the Princess of Sweden. “All three countries border arctic regions,” said Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, adding “We’re all very concerned.” And they stayed around to tour all the exhibits and interact with attendees. It’s hard to imagine a US equivalent to the support these leaders provided to solution providers. My personal favorite moment though came at the end of an interview with Danish TV-2. They had warned me that we needed to be quick in talking about Climate Savers Computing because “some singing” was about to start. Sure enough, just as I finished my last answer, a parade of beautiful young girls came down the stairs behind us clothed in white robes, carrying candles and singing St. Lucia’s music. It was magical. And now we await the arrival of heads of states and the final deliberations to the climate talks. Regardless of the outcome, we made some progress in telling the ICT story.
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