Rae Kwon Chung: Digitalisation is a double-edge sword in combatting the global climate change
Чунг 4
The progress in combatting the global climate change may be assured by the synergy of technological and managerial innovations allowing the consumers to choose a more expensive, but a more environmentally friendly alternative. This is what Rae Kwon Chung, the Nobel Prize laureate and the Chairman of the Global Energy Prize International Award Committee, said at the Eurasian Forum in Budapest on September 19-20, 2022.

Mr. Chung spoke at the Forum in the framework of a public dialogue with Zoltán Cséfalvay, the Head of the Technological Future Centre of Mattias Corvinus Collegium. Answering the question about the failures of the recent 30 years in combating the global climate change (starting from the moment of signing the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in 1992), Mr. Chung emphasised, that the focus on the industrial element in combating the emissions was the key mistake. The business community, regulators and experts were committed at decreasing the GHG emissions during the production of goods and services. In particular, the Kyoto Protocol was part of this logic, and all its signatories agreed to decrease the emissions by 18% versus 1990. However, Mr. Chung believes that it is very important to include the contribution of the end-users of carbon-intensive products in the calculation of the emissions.

This idea was to a certain degree implemented back in 2000s, when the European Union established the carbon units trading system stipulating that the industrial manufacturers and the fossil fuel energy sector – refineries, steel mills, coal-fired power plants, etc. – would have to buy CO2 emission quotas when processing and burning fossil resources. This carbon regulation will go beyond the EU already in 2023, when CBAM mechanism comes into effect.

“Is the exponential technological growth capable of suppressing the climate change?”, Mr. Cséfalvay asked his dialogue partner. “On one hand, technological development and digitalisation allow for energy savings, but on the other hand, digitalisation per se is a source of the rocketing increase in demand for energy”, Mr. Chung answered referring to the boom in crypto currency. In his opinion, the way out is in efficient managerial decision-making allowing for bringing the climate action into the everyday consumer practices. “Thus, in Germany, when you buy a railway ticket you can choose a more expensive option contributing your funds to purchasing “clean” energy”, Mr. Chung said providing a specific example when summarising his talk.


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September 2022