Greener together: Delivering Zero Pollution in practice

ICT solutions, if fully integrated, can help us optimise environmental and agricultural management and deliver the European Green Deal. Marta Pacheco reports on Huawei’s EU Green Week kick-off meeting which looked at “greening” agriculture

By Marta Pacheco

Marta Pacheco is a Communications Consultant, Freelancer, Journalist & Independent Researcher.

17 Jun 2021

Innovative ICT technologies have the potential to radically transform our agricultural sector so that we can minimise pollution and tackle climate change. This was the key message from the first of a series of events organised by Huawei, raising awareness of climate change. In particular, the event focused on how technologies such as 5G, blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence can help us slow down climate degradation.

“As an ICT infrastructure and smart device provider, Huawei is convinced that ICT is increasingly becoming an important enabling technology for a greener world,” said Huawei’s chief representative to the EU institutions, Abraham Liu. Liu believes Europe’s leadership in bringing about positive change, educating citizens on climate change, and surfing the sustainable wave, while maintaining that such global challenge, can’t be solved alone. “Every one of us, every organisation, especially private companies like Huawei, together with governments and policymakers, should urgently think, act, and collaborate with an open mind, to tackle this issue together,” he urged.

“As an ICT infrastructure and smart device provider, Huawei is convinced that ICT is increasingly becoming an important enabling technology for a greener world.”

Abraham Liu, Chief Representative to the EU Institutions, Huawei

According to an estimate from Huawei, by 2025, the proportion of electricity generated from clean energy sources will increase from the current level of 20 percent to 60 percent, said Liu, highlighting his company’s contribution in developing appropriate infrastructure to support the climate transition. “In Europe, we are currently working with our partners to help customers build clean energy generating systems that are primarily based on solar and wind,” he added. 

5G and agriculture

When asked whether 5G could help in “greening” agriculture, a sector responsible for a large share of emissions, Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, expressed confidence that the digitalisation of agriculture would bring cost-effective advantages, including data sharing and improving monitoring capacities. “[5G will bring] tremendous potential in terms of data collection and individual farming. Key to that is connectivity and 5G is absolutely essential,” noted McConalogue. The Irish Minister believes that such technology will “avail the different technologies and methodologies” for assessing exactly what is happening in farming and ensure maximum efficiency. Precision farming, a specific example illustrated by the panel, centres on providing a service to keep the crop healthy while reducing the amount of fertilisers and pesticides used, therefore preserving the soil, and limiting water consumption.

Although the EU sees ICT technologies playing a key role in achieving its Green Deal’s targets, the European Commission’s Ilias Iakovidis explained that digitalisation only works when there are “boundary conditions”. “Not all digitalisations are equal. You can digitalise and make it a pollution, or you can digitalise and make it a solution,” cautioned Iakovidis.

Iakovidis also explained that a business reality focused on the reliance of fewer materials will, in turn, deliver less pollution and environmental degradation, saying, “ICT should be used to change the business model.” 

Live monitoring

Among the current ICT tools already employed by the EU is the Copernicus Climate Change Service (CCCS), a part of the EU space programme. It collects earth observation data to help mitigate the effects of climate change and pollution. “The CCCS takes the satellite data on the land, the sea, and the atmosphere, to understand the Earth system,” explained Samantha Burgess, CCCS’ Deputy Director.

“By 2025, the proportion of electricity generated by clean energy will increase from the current 20 percent to 60 percent” 
Abraham Liu, Huawei

Burgess also described how farmers could benefit from Copernicus’ data, by providing them with precision understanding of their soil and the moisture profile of their fields. From that soil, Burgess explains, farmers can then identify what crops to plant, how to give them the best opportunity to succeed in that year, but also how much investment would be needed, in terms of fertilisers and irrigation to support that crop.

Universal connectivity

However, the full uptake of digital agriculture requires a connectivity bridge. In order to transform the business model in agriculture, it is fundamental to achieve universal connectivity by 2030, said Monica Gail MacDevette, Head of Chemicals & Health at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). “47 percent of the world’s population remains unconnected to the Internet and this is where the UN has pledged to leave no one behind, including in the digital space,” informed MacDevette.  UNEP’s chief of Chemicals & Health further urged the promotion of digital goods and literacy, to “create equitable worlds” and digital inclusion for all, including the most vulnerable.

Concluding the debate, Huawei’s Liu called for enhanced collaboration and cooperation for shared success, not only in Eurasia but in the whole world, including the US. “We are calling on all technology companies to support and participate in the battle against climate change, which is vital for the destiny of humanity.” 

For more information about the Green Week visit:

This content was commissioned by Huawei and produced by Dods

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