Christiana Figueres’ “Special Weapon” on Climate Change
On December 15, 2014, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres penned a blog in the Huffington Post entitled “It’s Time to Deploy This Special Weapon on Climate Change.” In this case, the Special Weapon is harnessing advanced information and communication technologies (ICT) to cut back on carbon emissions and create early-warning systems for natural disasters.
Ms. Figueres explains that the spread of mobile technology across the world (even in the world’s poorest countries) means that people are more connected with information than ever before. She cites the examples of India and Malaysia, where the company Ecolibrium has launched a power-saving initiative called SmartSense. SmartSense allows companies to “access energy use data from their buildings from any internet enabled device in order to spot inefficient energy use.” With users claiming a 20% increase in energy savings, initiatives like SmartSense have the potential to make real changes in energy usage worldwide.
Ms. Figueres also points to the example of the Indian Himalayan foothills, where communities face greater flood risks because of higher atmospheric temperatures melting glacier ice, feeding local rivers and lakes. 45 of these communities have established an ICT Community-Based Flood Early Warning System, which utilizes sensors in the rivers and lakes that detect water level rise and sends that information back to communities via their mobile phones.
The Lima COP ended this past Sunday, and Ms. Figueres made sure that some of these ICT innovations were presented and discussed throughout the conference. She hopes they will play a significant role in the climate regime due to be negotiated in Paris, 2015.
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