Technology for a greener world

Leading ICT companies are working hard to deliver on the European Green Deal and, as Martin Banks reports, they include Chinese tech giant Huawei which is doing its bit to improve global ecology.
Source: Adobe Stock

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

07 Jun 2021

Commission president Ursula von der Leyen recently said that it will not be possible to “shape the world of tomorrow” without a strong EU China partnership. Abraham Liu, Huawei’s chief representative to the EU institutions, agrees, saying that the partnership mantra also extends to the gradual transition towards carbon neutrality. He warns that climate change has not stopped despite the global economic slowdown caused by COVID-19 and, after a temporary lull, mission levels are quickly rising again.

This is one of the key messages Liu wants to get across to mark 2021 European Green Week, the EU’s annual “greenfest” which runs for a week from 7 June. During the week, Huawei has organised a series of events at its various offices around Europe, all designed to raise awareness of the global climate challenge. Huawei, believes Liu, is well placed to play its part, and help the EU achieve the objectives of the bloc’s much-vaunted Green Deal which he describes as a “pioneering and bold policy.” He believes that in the coming decade there are “five key technologies” needed for a zero-carbon future. These are green power, green connectivity, green digitalisation, AI-powered environmental protection, and zero-carbon networks.

On “green power” he predicts that renewable energy, dominated by solar power and wind power, will be the fastest growing energy source and Huawei is working to “build clean energy generating systems that are primarily based on solar and wind energy storage.” As for green connectivity, the company is at the forefront of all-optical technology. “Our optical fibre printing technology,” he says, “can ‘print’ 1,000 optical fibres onto a backplane the size of an A4 piece of paper. This means one set of equipment can now do the job of nine, in the traditional setting, reducing power consumption by 60 percent.”

When it comes to green digitalisation, his company is pioneering intelligent optimisation technologies to help data centres “learn” to save energy. “This is what we mean when we say using bits to manage watts.” Collaborating with the non-profit organisation Rainforest Connection, Huawei has also made a sound monitoring system nicknamed “Guardians of Nature”, which collects sound data for AI-powered processing to prevent illegal logging.

Turning to “zero-carbon networks” Liu predicts that energy consumption by global communications sites will reach 66 billion kilowatt hours, accounting for about two percent of the world’s total energy consumption, by 2025. Traditional wireless base stations are considered to be about 60 percent energy efficient. By replacing equipment rooms with outdoor cabinets, Huawei can increase this number to 90 percent. “This is a huge step forward,” he declares.

Liu will outline these and other “smart solution” initiatives at an online forum taking place on June 8, part of Huawei’s contribution to Green Week and explain how he believes ICT innovation can help achieve carbon neutrality. The panel discussion also includes Charlie McConalogue, Ireland’s minister for agriculture, food, and the marine, and Ilias Iakovidis, green digital transformation adviser for the European Commission.

“We are calling on all technology companies to actively support and participate in the battle against climate change, one that is vital for the destiny of humanity” 

Abraham Liu, Chief Representative to the EU Institutions, Huawei

New technologies, argues Liu, are needed to reduce carbon emissions, and ICT technologies will play an increasingly critical role in this process. “We are calling on all technology companies to actively support and participate in the battle against climate change, one that is vital for the destiny of humanity,” he said. Liu believes that tech companies like his own hold the key towards unlocking leveraging potential, enabling other actors to fully unleash their emission reduction potential.

Although carbon emissions temporarily declined by volume due to lockdowns and the global economic slowdown, emission levels are quickly rebounding, according to a World Meteorological Organization report. Liu say, “As economies begin to recover we have to ask ourselves: How can we look for opportunities to improve global ecology and move towards carbon neutrality?”

He hails Europe as a leader in combating climate change, pointing out that, in 2019, on the fourth anniversary of the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the EU committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Indeed, in 2020, 38 percent of the EU’s power was generated by wind, solar, and other renewable sources, surpassing the amount of power generated by fossil fuels for the first time. “Moreover, many European enterprises are global models when it comes to pursuing sustainable development,” he says.

Liu adds, “As an ICT infrastructure and smart device provider, Huawei is convinced that ICT is becoming an important enabling technology for a greener world.” But the brutal truth, he goes on to caution, is that no one can solve the global climate challenge alone. “Every one of us, every organisation, especially private companies like Huawei, should actively think, act, and collaborate with an open mind to tackle this issue together.”

Green Week this year focuses on the “zero pollution ambition” and on solutions to create a toxic-free environment across the EU. Looking to the future, Liu says that Huawei “stands ready” to work with its European partners on the “journey” towards a zero-carbon future in Europe.

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