Digital policies are being overlooked by Canada on its path towards net zero, a new report by FarrPoint has found.
The report, which was published today to coincide with Canadian Environment Week (30 May-5 June), examined the digital policies that G7 economies have or are planning to introduce as they work towards becoming net zero by 2050.
Canada, like the rest of the G7, has no specific national digital policies to support net zero targets
FarrPoint’s research concluded that Canada, like the rest of the G7, has no specific national digital policies designed to support climate action and the delivery of net zero targets. Its report suggests that the inclusion of digital policies present a clear opportunity to create positive outcomes and for Canada to lead the world in digitally enabled climate action.
Digital policy is increasingly viewed as a vital way for governments to work towards their net zero commitments and research highlights how digital solutions could bring down GHGe emissions by up to 20% – saving up to 120 megatonnes per year.
The report’s recommendations include transitioning away from broadband and cellular network infrastructure competition (including improved cellular spectrum sharing) as well as implementing a ban on overbuild (i.e., building more than one network of the same type in the same locality), which would limit emissions from construction, allocate assets more efficiently, and ensure that network and infrastructure owners can make a return on their investment.
In addition, FarrPoint suggests that a combination of tax incentives should be introduced to encourage changes in working practices, such as prioritising remote working, as well as promote the delivery of public services digitally and aid the wider digital adoption within the economy by reducing financial barriers to entry. Lastly, the report recommends that all digital procurement and investment requiring public funding should prioritise projects with credible carbon reduction plans to reduce the ecological impact of infrastructure investment.
Digital policy is Climate Policy
Andrew Muir, CEO, FarrPoint, said: “Like many countries, Canada’s efforts to combat climate change are developing but there is still much more work to be done if it is to achieve net zero commitments. Across the world, digital services and solutions have been overlooked as a mechanism to achieve our collective environmental goals. It is vital that governments, organisations and consumers alike recognise that digital policy is climate policy. In creating this report, we have been able to provide a clear path forward to kick-start a conversation in Canada on the crucial role digital can play in reaching net zero.
“No other developed economy in the world is leading in this area and there is a real opportunity to showcase Canada’s commitment to a greener future. Not only does this make commercial sense and improve the lives of consumers but improved digital policy also can help drive emissions down to reach its 2030 goal of a reduction of 40-45% of its 2005 emissions, which would be a big step on the journey towards net zero.
“Ultimately, the key conclusion of this study is that digital policy must become embedded in Canada’s climate policy, if it is to reach net zero by 2050.”
Report authors: Darren Kilburn, Matthew Izatt-Lowry, Dr Andrew Muir