From commitments to action: Assessing the effectiveness of pan-European policies and regulations for the green digital transformation – WS 01 2022
You are invited to become a member of the session Org Team! By joining an Org Team you agree to that your name and affiliation will be published at the respective wiki page of the session for transparency reasons. Please subscribe to the mailing list to join the Org Team and answer the email that will be send to you requesting your confirmation of subscription.
In the face of crises and challenges ranging from energy security to climate change, Europe needs to transition to a green digital economy by the 2030s. Are we making the progress that we need to realise this goal, however?
Since the beginning of the 2020s, Europe has faced crisis after crisis – ranging from COVID-19 and the current war in Ukraine, to the resulting refugee crisis and persistent economic, supply chain, and energy security challenges, just to name a few. These crises do not exist within a vacuum, however, nor are they manifesting in a completely unforeseen way. On the contrary, European governments across the continent have been preparing for an uncertain and potentially tumultuous 21st century with extensive plans such as the European Green Deal, the European Digital Strategy, and many others from both national governments as well as regional governance organisations outlining extensive plans and roadmaps for action.
Between technological innovations and expanding capacities, it is clear we have many of the solutions needed to address new and emerging challenges, but the important question to address is whether or not we are actually implementing them? With 2030 fast approaching, are we actually implementing effective regulations and setting the right standards to solve the problems of the future, especially as it relates to the intersection of digital and sustainability?
The reality is that there is no simple answer; it is one that should be seen as nuanced. While the “right to repair” is advancing, for instance, material footprints of information and communication technologies along with the amount of non-recycled electronic waste (e-waste) continue to rise.
Given these developments and building on EuroDIG’s past work on ICTs, sustainability, and the environment, this session will explore the opportunities and challenges facing the implementation of policies governing ICT sustainability and digitalization across Europe, specifically by highlighting areas that are progressing well along with areas that are struggling. We also seek to address how the EuroDIG community can further support the green digital transformation and accelerate the green transition of the European digital economy.
Please try out new interactive formats. EuroDIG is about dialogue not about statements, presentations and speeches. Workshops should not be organised as a small plenary.
Sustainability intersessional projects
- Greening Internet Governance (EuroDIG)
- IGF Dynamic Coalition on the Environment (DC-E)
- Policy Network on Environment (PNE – IGF)
Past EuroDIG sessions focusing on sustainability
- FS 1 (2021) – Greening Internet Governance, Part II – Enabling an Environmentally Sustainable Digital Transformation in Europe
- PL 4 (2020) – Greening Internet governance – Environmental sustainability and digital transformation
- Flash 13 (2019) – Fighting climate change with emerging technologies – for good or ill?
- WS 11 (2017) – Drowning in data – digital pollution, green IT, and sustainable access | It also includes an extensive and continuously maintained ICT sustainability resource database
FS 1 (2021) key messages
- A standardised methodology and indicators are necessary to assess and monitor the environmental and social impact of digital technologies to enable evidence based decision making at the regulatory and political levels.
- Internet governance must include sustainability at its heart (core).
- To reduce the environmental impact of the digital world, it is necessary to adopt measures to optimise energy and material efficiency (circularity) of the digital sector. For example, increasing the use of renewables, innovating for low energy consumption, keeping devices longer in use, facilitating re-use, improving reparability and recyclability, and adopting sustainable business models.
- We need to make sure that the infrastructure we use runs on green power. We should leverage policy, and in particular the policy on spending public money, to speed along the use of a greener Internet.
- Areas where international coordination is needed the most are measures to promote the circular economy, to share environmental data, to reduce environmentally harmful consumption, to promote efficiency and enhance digital applications, and to ensure transparency regarding environmental costs and materials, as well as the improvement of data protection through technical measures.
- Regulations that increase circular production and consumption, ensure corporate accountability, and increase the reuse of devices as well as increasing their longevity are some of the most important policy areas that need to be addressed in order for Europe to have a sustainable digital future.
Selection of past IGF sessions focusing on sustainability
- IGF 2021 IGF 2021 Main Session: The impact of environment data on sustainability and internet governance
- IGF 2020 Environment Track
- WS #266 Sustainable #netgov By Design: Environment & Human Rights (2020)
- Internet Rights and Principles Coalition (IRPC) – Sustainable Futures I – video (2018) & Sustainable Futures II video (2019)
Reports, regulations, and studies conducted by the European Union
- Coalition to work on the standardised assessment and monitoring methodologies & guidance (link)
- Commitments of EU MS on investing in green digital transformation (link)
- European Commission (2021) – Energy-efficient Cloud Computing Technologies and Policies for an Eco-friendly Cloud Market
- European Environmental Agency (2020) – Europe’s consumption in a circular economy: The benefits of longer-lasting electronics (briefing)
- European Environment Information and Observation Network (Eionet) (2020) – Electronics and obsolescence in a circular economy
- Council of the EU (2020) – Digitalisation for the benefit of the environment
- European Commission (2020) – EU Circular Economy Action Plan
- European Commission (2020) – European Data Strategy
- European Commission (2020) – Shaping Europe's Digital Future
- European Commission (2020) – Guidance for the Assessment of Material Efficiency: Application to Smartphones
- European Parliament (2020) – Promoting product longevity: How can the EU product safety and compliance framework help promote product durability and tackle planned obsolescence, foster the production of more sustainable products, and achieve more transparent supply chains for consumers?
- European Commission & the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union (2019) – Digital4Planet: Plenary session at Digital Assembly 2019
- Lower Energy Acceleration (LEAP) Program – Roadmap | Program overview
- Climate change impacts in Europe (link)
- Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance (SDIA) – Roadmap
Please provide name and institution for all people you list here.
- Julia Trzcińska
Focal Points take over the responsibility and lead of the session organisation. They work in close cooperation with the respective Subject Matter Expert (SME) and the EuroDIG Secretariat and are kindly requested to follow EuroDIG’s session principles
Organising Team (Org Team) List Org Team members here as they sign up.
The Org Team is a group of people shaping the session. Org Teams are open and every interested individual can become a member by subscribing to the mailing list.
- Florian Cortez
- Julia Trzcińska
- Michael J. Oghia
- Minda Moreira
- Shawna Finnegan
- Almut Nagel
- Alexandra Lutz, Parliamentary Assistant for MEP David Cormand, Greens/EFA
- Almut Nagel, Green Digital Transformation - Policy Officer, DG-Connect, European Commission
- Michelle Thorne, Sustainable Internet Lead, Mozilla Foundation
- Ross Creelman, Public Policy Manager, ETNO
Trained remote moderators will be assigned on the spot by the EuroDIG secretariat to each session.
Reporters will be assigned by the EuroDIG secretariat in cooperation with the Geneva Internet Platform. The Reporter takes notes during the session and formulates 3 (max. 5) bullet points at the end of each session that:
- are summarised on a slide and presented to the audience at the end of each session
- relate to the particular session and to European Internet governance policy
- are forward looking and propose goals and activities that can be initiated after EuroDIG (recommendations)
- are in (rough) consensus with the audience
Current discussion, conference calls, schedules and minutes
See the discussion tab on the upper left side of this page.
- Go to the messages from Focus Area 2
- Find an independent report of the session from the Geneva Internet Platform Digital Watch Observatory at https://dig.watch/event/eurodig-2022/from-commitments-to-action-assessing-the-effectiveness-of-pan-european-policies-and-regulations-for-the-green-digital-transformation.
Provided by: Caption First, Inc., P.O. Box 3066, Monument, CO 80132, Phone: +001-719-482-9835, www.captionfirst.com
This text, document, or file is based on live transcription. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), captioning, and/or live transcription are provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. This text, document, or file is not to be distributed or used in any way that may violate copyright law.
>> Good morning, and welcome, everybody. And we will start today’s session – we will start today with the first session that is titled From Commitments to Action: Assessing the Effectiveness of Pan-European Policies and Regulations for the Green Digital Transformation. I would like to give the floor to my colleague who will discuss – introduce herself and quickly go over the EuroDIG session rules.
>> Good morning, everyone. We ask you to please always make sure you have your full name on display. If not you can rename yourself, or if entering through a mobile device we can rename you. And when the time for the Q and A comes, please raise your hand. The Moderator will give you time to speak and we will lower your hand. And please introduce yourself when you take the floor. I will now pass the floor to the Moderators. And have a very nice session.
>> ROSS CREELMAN: Thank you so much. Thank you. Good morning, everyone. It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to this workshop on assessing effectiveness of Pan-European policies and regulations for the green digital transformation. My name is Ross Creelman. And I work at ETNO. That’s the association representing the main telecoms operators of Europe. Our purpose is rolling out next generation connectivity, 5G and fiber to enable newer greener vertical solutions for our economy and society.
Now the issue of sustainability is not new at EuroDIG. In previous years there have been in-depth discussions and fighting climate change with emerging technologies and on green Internet Governance.
In the EU, it has been three years since the elections of the European Parliament and two and a half since the Funderline Commission has taken office. It is a good time to look back and what remains to be done to enable the green digital transition. One small example of how Europe is seeking to improve circularity. Only this month the European Parliament adopted rules on a common charger for mobile phones which was viewed as a landmark legislation to reduce e-waste in Europe. We have to remember the policy design and implementation does not exist in a vacuum. In reality, circumstances, like the COVID-19 pandemic or the Russian invasion of Ukraine impacted our plans and if those plans are flexible enough to be adapted to the reality of the situation.
And so this morning we are delighted to have with us to share their perspective, Almut Nagel from the European Commission, policy officer on green digital transformation. We have also with us Alexandra Lutz, the parliamentary assistant and Michelle Thorne, the sustainable Internet lead from the Mozilla Foundation. There has been in the chat a link for audience questions. You are invited to follow it and submit your questions and answers there throughout the session.
To begin we are going to, rather the structure of the whole session is to look back and to look forward. To look back at what is going well, what isn’t going well, when are the current challenges and then to look forward on what we need to focus on in the coming year from the policy point of view.
So to begin I’m going to ask our three speakers to take five or six minutes to respond to that first question. What has been done, what’s going well, what isn’t, what are the current challenges. And to begin I’m going to invite Almut to share the perspectives of the European Commission. Almut.
>> ALMUT NAGEL: Thank you. I suppose you hear me well. Good to be with you this morning. So we’re kind of running in a shorter time frame. So I will skip a lot of introductory parts. What is going well, I have the impression that the narratives of the green ICT and the ICT for green are getting together slowly but steadily. Those two narratives are quite different. Alexandra will go in to for sure at a later stage. And we also need to recall that two transitions, the green transition and the digital transformation are two completely different beasts. And we need to really take care that the digital contributes to the triple win of the sustainability. So economic, ecologic and social aspects.
This can only happen if there is design, use and governance for those three dimensions. Also the IPCC has put it very clearly in their last report that digital can help cut emissions if adequately governed. We are at the core of this discussion with this workshop. We need to get the boundaries right for digital solutions. And we need to have an integrated approach. This is quite difficult for policymakers because they usually have their own field of responsibility. So there is the digital deployment. There is the environmental protection. There is the bucket regulation. There is consumer empowerment, social rights and employment. And we all need to bring those aspects together. And what’s also quite important is that we need to look where do digital solutions have an added value and where we rather have a combination of other – of other solutions. Be it nature based solution, low tech and where really the high tech is necessary.
With this as let’s say the frame, I think as I said we have progressed since last year. The Commission meanwhile has been very active putting forward a couple of legislations that I would just like to give some of the headlines. We want to talk about the effectiveness. This needs to be discussed next year or in two years’ time when the colegislators have given their advice on the proposal. For example, there has been due diligence draft directive set out in February. There are bigger companies, depending on what they are doing, beyond 250 employees, need to align their business plans to the 1.5 and the Paris Agreement and they need to prove that they are in line.
The Data Act, which is about sharing data from connected devices, who owns the data, who has access to the devices. One big one is the sustainable product initiative and the ecodesign for sustainable product regulation that came out in a huge package end of March.
Here we have put forward a proposal, for example, for the digital product passports. But the package includes also textile strategy, the revision of the construction products, regulation of proposal to empower consumers in the green transition. These are proposals that aim for more circularity. And when I read through the take-aways of last year’s session, I think a lot of the asks you have mentioned there have been addressed.
What is coming up is the right to repair and the green claims proposals. They are due to be published in autumn. And Ross already mentioned the success stories, common charge and platform regulations that have already been agreed by the colegislators. I will stop there and hand over back to you, Ross. You are still muted, Ross.
>> ROSS CREELMAN: Thank you so much. And thank you, Almut, for that. It sounds like you and the Commission have been extremely busy over the past years. And so many interesting proposals on the table. Some as you mentioned, the common charger has been completed. But indeed still things in the pipeline to come.
And indeed that’s not where the policy story finishes. Indeed once the Commission makes a proposal it goes to the desk of among others Alex. Alex, tell us what’s your perspective. What’s going well? What’s not going so well? And where are we today?
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: Thank you, Ross. I’m happy to know that the Commission takes my desk specifically but happy to be here. I would definitely echo what Almut began to say. Today we are really at this crossroads where every decision we will take now and the way we shape our regulation will have impact for the next decades. So we have to be careful on that. It was mentioned already but it is true that the digital and the green transition are not the same thing. One is elementary to not end up in a total collapse of our societies, to stop climate change, stop the collapse of biodiversity. Digital transition it is more of a tool. Something at the service and not an end in itself. So that’s something we have to keep in mind when we talk about those things. What we do know now about digital impact of technologies on the environment is that the most of the impact is material. It comes from the resources, from the extraction.
It is more about the fact that we need more and more extraction of resources all the time to produce more and more devices and more infrastructure. So any path that we need to choose needs to enshrine sobriety in itself. Durable devices and infrastructure and to go from the problem we need to solve and then to go forward.
We have to take things in the right order. First, what do we need to achieve. Does digital have like a role in that, if any. Would I take the example of agriculture? But if we say oh, yes, we could be more precise in how much pesticide we take in our fields, we could all together cut all pesticides by having more of an ecological approach to things. It would be taking things in the wrong order to say we can cut a bit. We need to stop it all together. And there digital doesn’t have a role to play.
Almut already mentioned several of the upcoming files that we will be working on right now in the European Parliament. One being the ecodesign. We need to have high ambitions and standards. I would say the text is going in the right direction but everything needs to be regulated in the second time. First we said that the text currently says we need to be ambitious and have standards. But then everything will be done by delegated act. That means that the Commission, it will come back to them and they will have to decide on standards category, product by category product, which is great. But the question is okay, we need to do all of that. We already had that for just electrical devices. And it already took many, many years because, of course, you need resources and people to do that.
So the question is do we give enough resources, human resources, technical resources and money to be able to do those designs. You mentioned the common charger and we are happy that it came through. Do we still have more than ten years to achieve? That’s something that we need to keep in mind. But if we have the successful text in 20 years then it doesn’t make sense. We need to be conscious of the time we have left and to be going in the right direction. I will stop now and give other solutions later on so we all have time to think. But yes. Thank you. Back to you, Ross.
>> ROSS CREELMAN: Thank you very much, Alex. That was extremely clear. And thank you as well for framing this indeed. As you say we are at a crossroads and I think that’s a good moment to be discussing this today with this dual lens of looking back and looking forward.
I’m going to hand over now to Michelle to hear the point of view from Mozilla.
Michelle, what is the perspective of Civil Society and open source actors in this debate?
>> MICHELLE THORNE: Yes, thank you so much. A pleasure to be here. I’m glad this topic is on the agenda at EuroDIG. I wanted to share our experience at Mozilla when we started our sustainability program and went through the greenhouse gas accounting. And I think we didn’t learn because this kind of digital sustainability was a new topic for Mozilla. We have over a thousand employees. And we have offices and we fly around the world. We didn’t realize that the emissions from people using the Firefox browser accounted for 98% of Mozilla’s emissions. And this really changed our perspective. And we said as an organization that believes in a free and open Internet that’s digital public good and empowering for all. If we are not actually accounting for Internet submissions and our role in making digital products that emit so much because of the use of Internet, then we are not doing our jobs.
And so this really kind of galvanized for us a clarity that we need not just to improve as a company or our organizational footprint but we need to transition the Internet itself away from fossil fuels.
I think this for me highlights some areas where we could do better work. Right now it is just optional for company, digital companies to report on what’s called scope 3 emissions. We could report the 98% that comes from the Firefox browser. Netflix doesn’t have to report on the emissions caused by people streaming. It is kind of a shock.
So I think we need to really talk about how are we better harmonizing the greenhouse gas reporting for digital products, and making it mandatory to report on all scopes because we are really missing out on that important aspect there.
Lastly I also think that there is a huge need for open approaches. One thing we also learned during this process is that there are – basically have to pay licensing fees to use different models to help you calculate your emissions. And those models should not be behind pay walls. This is information we need to move fast and need to be open source. Every company, small or large, should be able to calculate these things without a great expense. And often these models have been funded through public funding. So they should not be – we shouldn’t have to be paying to access the things that will help us model our emissions and account for them.
So those would be areas that I think just based on our experience would be helpful. Now that we are getting to the place where this digital sustainability is taking a bigger shape we need to be coming back to some key values around digital rights, around climate justice and talk what does it look like to actually incorporate digital rights and climate justice in this vision, within the twin transition narrative. And I think that work could be done, you know, more ambitiously as well. Thank you so much.
>> ROSS CREELMAN: Thank you so much, Michelle. And I’m very interested in – a very interesting perspective, especially on the reporting on emissions on the need to see clear and harmonized picture because I mean as you said it was a surprise to you that 95% of the emissions were coming from the users of the browser. And it surprised me, too. So, of course, to get this picture from across the Internet ecosystem is extremely important.
Looking forward, within the EU, we still have a couple more years of the current and political cycle. Almut has already kindly listed a couple of the initiatives that will still come out throughout the rest of this year, the right to prepare the green claims.
But where do we need to focus? Beyond those initiatives, in the coming 12 months and beyond, where do we need to focus to achieve some of the objectives that we’ve talked about to see this what is already a coming together of the green and digital aspects. How do we carry that on? And as Alexandra challenged, how did we keep going in the right direction at a pace that’s, you know, meeting the demands of today. So looking forward, I’m going to hand the floor this time first to Alex to look forward and see what needs to be done.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: Well, we can naturally respond that focus on text coming up in the next year. But so we have – I mean definitely several of them. The first one being codesign framework. And in that one I would say where we need to achieve is to have a common methodology on how we account for the emissions, the environmental impact of digital technologies because for now we have different approaches. So we definitely need to have a common approach and to be able to first look at the entire lifecycle of any product of infrastructure. So from when it is built, when it is used and end of life and waste. And we also need to have several criterias taken in to account. So, of course, like the assumption that’s true, what impact it has on cells, on resources, on water. Maybe focus on water right now. I read a recall yesterday about data centers. We are on the right path, going in the right direction and using green energy and renewables, that’s great. But there is two questions there for me. One it is okay, let’s say that data centers are now on renewables. But there needs – also an energy is growing exponentially.
So it means that we need more and more energy. And it means we take all this energy from renewable sources that will not go somewhere else. It is still having a huge impact and that’s something that we kind of don’t say oh, no, it is kind of neutral. No. We need to see how do we actually not have this exponential growth forever.
That’s the first part. A second one would be okay, great, maybe now we are better and more efficient. But today, for example, we use this kind of metrics to say we need to use less energy per data center. That doesn’t account, for example, for how they are cooled down. So we can use maybe let’s say energy with like air conditioning, et cetera, but we can also use water and that’s not taken in to account. It is not accounted for. They don’t have to – data centers do not have to report on that. But we need more and more and more of them and talk about building water that we need to cool down these data centers. So that’s something also, it is a problem right now. It is – people like oh, yeah, we are going to run out of water because we are using them for data centers. We need to have a multi-criteria approach and not just focus on energy and climate change.
So that will be main recommendation at this stage. But we also kind of say that we need to empower the consumers in the green transition.
And to do that, I also think that the very, very, very basis is that we need people to be aware, to be able to do a choice in ow to do that. We need amended relabeling of sustainability across products, especially digital ones to be able to make a right decision. And that should take in to account how long you are going to keep it. When we tell to consumers this is a bit more energy efficient. You should have this new product, you should buy it. Renewing products over again all the time. When we have a new product coming out every year, every six months saying it is better than the last. We are not getting out of this cycle. We need to buy and make more resources. We need to kind of also go away from the system that pushes people to always buy something new. Also in terms of let’s say advertisement, we definitely need to kind of go out of the circle of saying we need to replace your products all the time. What should be done now, we need to have repair product. We need to keep product as long as possible. And it should be A, desirable and two, also possible. We have this huge problem about premature (inaudible) where products you want to keep, actually collapse in very few times.
Having a common methodology that’s across lifecycle and mandatory labeling and standard of products and tackling premature sub – going against the grain with manufacturers to ensure that we have long-lasting products and infrastructures.
>> ROSS CREELMAN: Very interesting. Thank you. And I think already from what all our speakers have said we have some common threads emerging. First and foremost, on having a harmonized picture of reporting and being able to actually, you know, know what is included in the reporting and ensure that reporting is giving an accurate picture of the environmental impact of a given activity or business.
But another important one indeed is this multi-criteria approach. And this is something coming back to what Almut said at the beginning is that we need to take in to account, you know, the economic impact, the ecological impact, the social impact. This transition is not a single facet. It is a whole of society approach that we need to take here.
And indeed perhaps Almut, at the next point, you may have some reactions to that because the Commission is doing a lot of work on all of these areas.
But in the interest of time, and I know that we’re fine for now. But Michelle has a hard stop. So I’d like to go to you next, Michelle, to hear your views on how we can get there, how we can, you know, at what level should this maybe common reporting on emissions and other impacts be taken, how best is that to be done.
And any reactions you might have as well to the other speakers to date.
>> MICHELLE THORNE: Yeah. Thank you so much. Alex, thank you for bringing up the point that is not just about carbon emissions, greenhouse emissions. I want to revise my former statements, environmental impact assessment as a whole because water is a huge issue and it doesn’t get talked about enough in this space and data centers in drought prone areas, the data centers will get prioritized over drinking water and agriculture. So we need to do something about that.
To talk about ways forward, to build on the plan of usage of our devices it is a software issue. We need to have – be able to access and modify and extend the life via software. There is a lot of hardware laying around that’s defunct because it is with no longer updated firmware, open source. This is an established practice of how to ensure that hardware can continue to be modified, because the software on it is modifiable. This is a strategy that we can continue to advance. There is the power of open source and increasing longevity. And we can talk about, you know, we didn’t get a chance to mention this more explicitly. One of the elements is around the information supply chain and the huge issues that we have around climate misinformation. If we are talking about the role of an informed public and taking informed action, we have to talk about how are we combatting climate misinformation. And there is a huge role for different tech platforms to play.
And also going back to the importance of the reporting on this data, it needs to not be hidden in a PDF. The Netflix example I gave earlier was data that was hidden in a PDF that is not very accessible and readable. This has to be human and machine readable and able to build all sorts of third party tools that help us to review and audit and aggregate this, all environmental data that companies is reporting. Sift through all of this and hold companies to account. So we need – that reporting needs to be done through open formats, open standards in a webby way that’s indexible and searchable and machine readable. I hope that – thank you, Ross, for the invitation to comment.
>> ROSS CREELMAN: Thank you, Michelle. And you mention some very important topics. And so now we come to a good point to go back and hear the Commission, what Almut views to be the crucial areas to focus going forward. Many topics were raised. I don’t know which ones you want to pick up. We also have even, you know, a step further looking at climate misinformation but the importance of an informed public. And I know also Alex mentioned the Commission’s initiative on empowering the consumers in the green transition. And the bedrock of that is an informed public. But I leave it to you to tell us where the Commission is looking for in the next period of time. We can’t hear you actually, Almut. Sorry.
>> ALMUT NAGEL: Is it working now?
>> ROSS CREELMAN: It is working now.
>> ALMUT NAGEL: Cool. So there are a lot of words that kind of trigger my responses. Maybe if you already see it in the body language. Yes. On reporting, there were the Commission is working beyond the legislative work we do. There is also a lot of advocacy. We are working together in this – in the European Green Digital Coalition which now has 34 CEOs from major companies working together to set up a methodology exactly to capture what we have been talking about. It is about the foot printing, that Alexandra said. It is about what input material is necessary for the devices. But also the part of enabling. What can all those digital solutions in the different fields, mobility, construction, or energy Networks, manufacturing, really bring as an added value in cutting emissions, be it material wise and CO2 wise. And under materials, I will put the water issue as well. This is very dear to me. I’m a trained hydrologist. So this is what we’re doing with the European Green Digital Coalition. It is growing. There is a lot of interest from enterprises and also the possibility for academia and other nonenterprises to join the Digital Coalition now as supporting partners. If anybody feels compelled to look in to it, please look it up.
I will put the link in the chat in a moment.
When it comes to, yeah, as Michelle said, it is also about the getting the scope 3 emissions onboard. So it is really looking in to it in a larger picture.
It will take a while. And there I come back to what I said earlier. We really need to start not from let’s say global projections and possibilities. We really start from use cases of enterprises and see within what system boundaries this solution has an added value. And where – what will happen when we cross those systemic boundaries. Then we often are faced with rebound effects. And in the end the coalition aims at having Guidelines to be clear how solutions need to be designed. So what is the completely hands off part and where there is the net environmental benefit we really expect to find.
There is – there are also the activities for the next generation Internet. And there has already been some of the points made. Like mandatory continuity of software updates is one of the things we’re looking in to. Also all this labeling. The built center and all this. I see this generally captured by the SPI and ecodesign for sustainable products regulation. But Alexandra and all the others involved will also chip in their details and really see how to make it work.
I’m fully aware and also the Commission is fully aware that this is a lengthy process with delegated acts for specific product groups. But at the same time with a clear shape principles set out in let’s say the umbrella legislation this will already send signals in to enterprises.
But one point that I would like to touch upon still is when we talk about products, I see this a little bit as a critical point because when we are talking about products we always take – talk about let’s say material, something to fulfill our needs.
And the classical way with products is we’re in a growth understanding. So the more products and materials are sold by enterprises, they make the money from more. And it is not about more well-being or more fulfilling needs. It is really about more products to be sold. And I think this is really the leverage point that is – where we need to look in to with all of our endeavors in the next steps.
How can we really look in to more circularity of products where necessary, but also where do we find possibilities to reduce the sheer quantity of products and materials in those cycles.
Because having a lot of good products but still too many around, and there is always loss, even in the best circularity approaches and recycling has also clearly its limits. I will keep it with this and happy to answer to further questions.
>> ROSS CREELMAN: Thank you so much, Almut. And very interesting as well the work that’s going on outside this strictly legislative framework. Looking at, for example, the European
Green Digital Coalition of which I know ETNO members are a part.
And again the importance of software updates has come up again which, of course, is something that from our point of view has as telecom network operators are extremely important not only to ensure that our next generation Networks, the virtualization of Networks is done in a secure and protected way. But also to ensure that the devices and network components actually last longer, actually don’t have an obsolescence, a premature obsolescence.
I want to go now, Julia, for your support to see if we have any questions in the chat for or indeed any questions that the audience might like to raise their hand and ask of our speakers.
>> JULIA TRZCINSKA: As of the chat, I didn’t see any questions that appeared so far. Only the comments. But I think it is a good moment if anyone has questions to be asked to our speakers, especially to Michelle, because she has a hard stop at 11:30, I think it is the perfect moment to ask those questions.
>> ROSS CREELMAN: Indeed, if any of our other speakers have reactions or questions to what has been said, we don’t need to think now about what was – what has been done and what will be done, but now we can maybe have a moment to react to some of the things that have been said. Alex, you have unmuted yourself.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: I did indeed, since we have more time I will drop another thought in the debate. But I think, for example, right now the Chips Act that’s coming up is a good illustration of the situation we are in. So the Chips Act, it is a new act that will pop up in Europe. It is about securing the provisions for chips in Europe because we realize how dependent we are on the outside, maybe in terms of material but also technology to get the chips that are needed for every digital component. Now the text focuses that we need to do a common public procurement to secure enough chips whenever there is a shortage coming up. A bit of investment to research and development but not at the level that other visions in the world would do. I would say maybe what I find interesting with this approach is we don’t really have in mind that we need to get out of the dependent state that we are in Europe. It is not about oh, how can we maybe reinvent things, how can we keep the devices longer. How can we get the resources from the device that we used. How do we get it back. How do we redo things. It is not a reflection all around that. So we kind of stay this idea of we have to import more to be able to have a bit less dependence on the outside. But it is not about proposing something new.
Or a better way of handling things and we still rely on this idea to have a successful digital and ecological transition in Europe. We need to rely on an extraction and expectation of people outside and then to send them our waste. So that’s also I would say sometimes occurring to me as a European and we should have a better way of proposing things and to get towards a model we are proud of and not something that relies on those terrible states of play for now.
>> ROSS CREELMAN: Thanks, Alex. Maybe a reaction – I see Almut has left and joined us. Almut, can you hear us?
>> ALMUT NAGEL: Yes, I can hear you. I just dropped out. Sorry for this. But I’m back.
>> ROSS CREELMAN: No problem at all. I’m afraid I’m going to throw you in the deep end. Alex just raised the question of the Chips Act and how it indeed does some things in that it aims to reduce our dependence, dependency on other jurisdictions, maybe it doesn’t complete the whole picture in terms of a sustainable ecosystem.
Any views from the Commission on this one? Just a short reaction.
>> ALMUT NAGEL: Yes. Alexandra, I count on the Parliament and on the Council for – no. The point is these legislations are produced under – yeah. Under circumstances that cannot always take all aspects in to account, to put it like this. So it is really about the complementarity with other pieces of legislation in the sense of as I said due diligence which is really very strong on let’s say nontechnical information. Though the digital passport is only about products related information in the end. And this is a sustainable product initiative. So they need to compliment each other. The same applies to the digital act, et cetera. So the Chips Act has some blind spots and this needs to be complimented by either by the codecision, because it is also about work in progress and learning as we’re doing things.
We’re living in a very complex world. So I think we will never have let’s say a completely perfect proposal, neither a complete political outcome in the end because it is also about how to find let’s say major leverage points.
So I’m fully aware that the Chips Act is leaving out a lot of aspects socially and ecologically that need to be added to make a full-standing proposal. And what you said the strategic autonomy is also as Ross said it earlier on, it is something that emerges now even more strongly. A couple of months ago a strategic autonomy was an important concept. But the urgency of the Ukrainian situation also made aware the dependencies not only on let’s say a theoretical level but also on a very specific concrete level. So in this context yes, sure, there is still work to be done.
>> ROSS CREELMAN: Thanks, Almut. I’m just looking before Michelle will have to leave us, if you have any final points. But I can’t see – there you are. Any final reactions before you need to leave?
>> MICHELLE THORNE: No. Thank you for helping put this topic on the agenda both at EuroDIG and I know these feed in to other Internet Governance conversations. I would like to explore, talk with people how do we connect with the conversations happening in other spaces. This feels like at least my understanding of how those climate talk goes. Tech is positioned as the thing that will save us. And as we talked about here today there is a lot of consideration that needs to go in to making that statement or doing that in a more effective way. So to ensure – how do we connect the Internet Governance conversations with the climate.
Lastly, I think the European, the European Union has done a lot to advocate for openness in various ways. And this is an approach that should continue to apply in this space.
So opening up the emissions models, opening up the public data and doing this on a machine readable way so that other actors can build and investigate and look in to it.
>> ROSS CREELMAN: Thank you, Michelle. And if you have to drop off, thank you so much for joining and for sharing your perspectives which were extremely enlightening. Before we go to the – start the final part which I understand is the conclusion of the main – the agreement on the main messages which I think will be drafted by the DiploFoundation and/or Julia, I’m not sure, I just wanted to point out a couple of very helpful take-aways that I have brought from this. And I think we’ve seen the overarching message is we need a holistic approach. We need to consider the economic aspects, the ecological aspects, social aspects. And this takes place not only in the European context but also internationally. We have to think of the impacts of what we do looking at the whole of the supply chain standards and the social impacts abroad. That means if we are importing chips for industries to make them greener, and to roll out digital solutions, we have to, of course, bear in mind the labor conditions where those chips were manufactured and the environmental impact there.
And also the impact this has on e-waste. I think another really important point was discussed by several of the speakers and that’s reporting. And the reporting that we do and what we say about the impact of our activities on the environment and beyond. We need to be speaking the same language. This needs to have the same criteria. So actually we can compare and improve and move forward, based, of course, also on openness and interoperability of data.
And finally I think a very important point was raised at the end just now by Michelle about how do we bring this all together. How do we bring the voices in EuroDIG together with the other conferences and decision makers dealing with climate change.
And how do we speak indeed one common language on these issues.
Julia, can I hand over to you for the next part?
>> JULIA TRZCINSKA: Yes. But we have Florian who would like to speak up. Let’s give him space and encourage everyone from the audience if anyone has some questions or comments, thoughts, there is space for that right now.
>> Florian: Thank you so much. I’m Florian. I’m a researcher. I have a small comment/intervention. I should have used my chance priorly in the question section but I want to make it and leave it as a thought here.
Giving all of these different priorities that have to be balanced, will the initiatives have the level for the green transition that we will need to achieve the ecological and green and climate goals? I know that there are all of these interests that have to be balanced. I wonder and I get concerned that to handle all of those leaves us at – behind in terms of the speed needed to achieve green transition that is commensurate of the climate goals.
And what are the constraints for the level of ambition and speed to be maybe too slow? Are these structural constraints? Are these constraints about the communities and the different advocacy communities not coming together? And managing to sort out common solutions fast enough? So this is my small little comment. And I leave you with that.
>> ROSS CREELMAN: Thank you for that, Florian. A small comment but a very big question. What’s the – what are the constraints for us moving slowly. I would just from a personal point of view think that we’re moving a lot quicker than we used to. It has been, of course, encouraging to see that this Commission has put the green transition front and center.
And, of course, the Parliament is rightly holding them to account and putting on the gas as well. Alex, if you have any comment.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: Yes, a small comment. I think that’s a great question, first of all. But something that goes beyond what we do here. I think we are going in the right direction. That’s a good start. There are structural constraints. Our main indicator is the GDP. How much product we make. As long as our main concern is how much economical growth we do without any concern about environment or the social effects, and that’s the main metrics, then I don’t have like much hope that we will be able to do things fast enough. So we talk about innovation, I would say we need to be innovative. That reflects the value and not try to fit the values of environment and social justice within a metrics that doesn’t take them in to account. So that will be my comment.
>> ROSS CREELMAN: Thank you. Almut, any final reaction from your side just to give you the opportunity before we hand over to Julia?
>> ALMUT NAGEL: Yeah. I’m fully with Alexandra there, because the point is how can we – how can we really, yeah, focus on what is – what fulfills our daily needs. And this does not need to be directly linked to the growth when it comes to products and all this.
We could also start discussing growth in well-being which is beyond let’s say the classical models. But there are a lot of people out there that are not yet in a let’s say mental position to change their models. It is also about can we servicize more and what would be the downsides. But I see the progression really progressing. We need to have some smart ideas, to be a little bit more disruptive than to have incremental changes in order to really yeah, to keep up with the pressing time frames.
>> ROSS CREELMAN: Thank you. Thank you, Almut. And thank you, Alex. Julia.
>> JULIA TRZCINSKA: Yes. I think if there are not – there is no more questions from the audience, no more interventions, first of all, I would like to thank the panelists and Ross for this great discussion. And I think it is a great time to give space also to our reporter to read some of the messages from today’s session.
And also I would like to inform everyone that afterwards there will be like a process, of course, of agreement on the – all the messages. And it will go beyond the time frames of this session. So if anyone will have any comments or feedback or anything else to raise, there will be space for that.
So can I give a voice to the reporter?
>> Hi. I hope you can hear me. My name is Katarina from the DiploFoundation. I understood that the messages will be read by my colleagues at the end of the day. However I can read the first draft of messages that I have composed.
They will be tweaked by the end of the day but here they are. The first message is we need to take care that the digital contributes to the triple win of sustainability, economic, ecological and social.
The second message, there is a need to talk about how to better harmonize the greenhouse gas reporting and make it mandatory to report on all scopes. Reporting on this data shouldn’t be hidden in a PDF. It has to be able to build all sorts of third party tools that help us to review, and auditing aggregate data. The third message, there needs to be a common methodology of how we account for environmental impact of digital technologies to be able to look at the entire lifecycle of any digital product. So that’s all from my end for now. Thank you very much.
>> JULIA TRZCINSKA: Thank you, Katarina. That’s really good messages. I think this is also a moment if anyone has any comments both from speakers and from the audience on that, on the messages or maybe you see something missing or important to be added in here, this is the moment for taking a voice. I see that Almut is raising your hand. Please go ahead.
>> ALMUT NAGEL: Thank you. I very much like your summary. I would add a small point to your last one. The common methodology, it is along the whole value chain for sure. But I would also add the aspect at comparability is very important also to tap in to green finance and sustainable finance. So this is the comparability on a product or enterprise level. But it is also a very important means to get hands or have access to the sustainable finance which in many cases is earmarked to green. So maybe this would be an addition that could be helpful to also guide your discussions further on.
>> JULIA TRZCINSKA: Thank you. And Alex go ahead.
>> ALEXANDRA LUTZ: Yes. Also I am also building on that. Thank you very much for the summary. It is hard to summarize like a long session in such a short time frame. Maybe two precisions on the first and second points. I would say the first we insist that the digital and green transition are two separate things. And one is a bit more important than the other. And the other is a tool. There was kind of agreement between speakers.
And for the second also mentioned just GAG emissions, that’s great. But also kind of agreement saying that we need to step out of just focusing on GAG emissions. And should also be environmental factors at large, maybe water, maybe resources, et cetera. Those are really important points if you want to achieve a good transition.
>> JULIA TRZCINSKA: Thank you both for making it crystal clear of what – where – what were the points. And I think I will also join the session later on on the green – on the final messages. And I will make sure to share those with you and with everyone.
And yeah. I think we can – we are coming to the end of the session. And it was really good to be here. And I’m happy that you had time to join us for today.
So thank you one more time. And I hope I see you next year and on other platforms and events like this when we gather together to bring different perspectives.
This is also the way for this green digital transition to happen and we shouldn’t forget about it.
So thank you very much. And Ross, would you like to wrap it up for us?
>> ROSS CREELMAN: Simply to say a very big thank you from my side to Michelle and Almut and Alex and to you, Julia, and to your org team. This session was extremely well planned for very many weeks by the org teams. Thanks, everyone.
>> That concludes our session. Thank you very much. The work that – the FabLab is now going to break until 12:15 when the next section begins on how can collaborative standards development support the European cybersecurity agenda. Feel free to join the session in the main auditorium. Thank you very much.