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Live from COP27, Egypt: A cloud’s eye view

Editor’s note: At Google Cloud we’re working with global organizations to help them use technology to build a more sustainable future. We’re excited about the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP27, when representatives from countries and organizations around the world — including Google Cloud — are gathering in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt from November 7 – 18, 2022 for the latest round of climate talks. Bookmark this blog as we bring perspectives from onsite, thoughts from Google experts and customers, curated content and announcements. Catch the event for yourself on Youtube

Day 1: Measurement, materiality, equity: the conversations we’re looking for at COP27 

Author: Chris Talbott, Cloud Sustainability Lead

It’s a wrap on day 1 of COP27, where nations, corporations, NGOs and individuals have all come to discuss what we collectively need to do in order to avert the worst consequences of climate change. Incoming COP president Sameh Shoukry recognized the massive mobilization of communities, young people, women, and local governments, underscoring that we still have a chance to overcome this threat. In the opening address, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Steill, asked governments to focus on three critical areas to be successful: 

Accelerate the shift from negotiations to implementation 

Ensure progress in areas like mitigation, adaptation, finance and loss and damage

Enhance transparency and accountability

At Google Cloud, we’ve been working with our customers to accelerate sustainable transformations using cloud technology. In the past year, it’s been incredible to see the momentum in every industry to turn commitments into real actions. But as we learned in our recent survey of global business leaders, while there is widespread ambition to combat climate change, they still face significant challenges in understanding whether their efforts are having an impact. While 96% of organizations had at least one program in place related to sustainability efforts, only 36% had measurement tools to track their impact. 

Measurement is an especially big challenge in the face of increased scrutiny over greenwashing and demands for transparency. Which is why I’m looking forward to hearing from those leaders who can demonstrate the benefits of definitive climate action, and set an example for others to follow. At Google Cloud we’re proud to partner with industry leaders who are actively measuring the impact of cloud technologies against their climate goals. For example, Salesforce has reduced its cloud carbon emissions for certain workloads by up to 80%; Carrefour reduced energy consumption by 45% by moving from on-premises data centers to our public cloud infrastructure; and Lufthansa cut Co2 emissions by an estimated 7,400 tons per year, by building a AI-enabled data platform to increase operational efficiency. 

Another part of COP that I really appreciate is the daily themes— from finance to adaptation, energy to biodiversity. These days highlight how the climate challenges faced by each industry are unique, how solutions will need to be industry-specific and why we need to focus our efforts on where the impact will be the greatest. In our work with cloud customers, this often shows up in materiality discussions, which ensure that we apply cloud technology to the parts of their business where it will have a significant positive impact. The work with Lufthansa, Carrefour and Salesforce are great examples of projects that would score well on a materiality assessment, and I look forward to learning about the successes that other companies, NGOs and nations have achieved. 

Last week, Google shared our efforts to use AI to address the climate crisis and announced the new FloodHub, a platform that displays flood forecasts to help at-risk communities prepare. The effects of climate change will be felt disproportionately throughout the globe, and increasingly by underrepresented and underdeveloped communities. AI running in the cloud is illuminating potential disparities, like local air quality differences across New York State, and helping leaders craft policies to address them. I hope we can learn more from the COP27 community about efforts to better identify and support at-risk global communities. 

Keep us bookmarked and check back with us often to hear perspectives from onsite at COP and from climate and industry experts across our teams. And don’t miss the Youtube livestream of the event.

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