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GREEN OUR TECH
Digital technologies in Europe
The digital world isn’t just virtual and in the cloud. It has a resounding impact on the physical world. This study deconstructs the notion that the digital world is light, dematerialised and has no impact on the physical world.
MEPs send a letter to the European Commission on a European repair score
According to an EU-wide poll, 74% of Europeans surveyed want environmental labels on electronic devices, while 90% of Europeans surveyed think that durability is important when choosing a new electronic device. One main barrier to consumers willing to purchase durable and reparable products was the lack of clear and comparable information. To this end, the European Commission should propose a mandatory EU-wide repair score.
TECH THAT PROTECTS THE PLANET
Let’s face it: we all love our tech! That’s why, when our phone or favourite appliance breaks, we don’t want to be forced to throw it away and have to spend loads of money on a new one. We want to be able to repair it, replace broken parts, maybe even recycle it into something new.
We don’t want our appliances filling up dumpsites, and polluting the earth and water. We don’t want perfectly good raw materials to be shipped abroad in huge containers, when we could use them to relaunch a “repair economy” that would create thousands of jobs.
We want to end this mad cycle where it’s cheaper to buy a whole new device than to get the devices we already love repaired. And we want to end the dominance of big tech companies that are purposefully making it hard for small repair shops to survive.
All this is not only possible, but it used to be totally normal. All we want is tech that protects (or at least doesn’t destroy) the planet - or your wallet!
HARNESSING TECHNOLOGY FOR GOOD
As the global race for digital leadership is heating up, it remains unclear how to ensure that the digital sector does not become an obstacle to the green deal, but a key driver of the solution. While currently being an already relevant contributor to the overall greenhouse gas emissions (2% of global emissions, just as much as civil aviation), the share of the ICT sector’s environmental footprint is predicted to grow exponentially within the next 5 to 10 years.
The European Commission has put forward a strategy for becoming climate-neutral by 2050 by investing in environmental-friendly technologies. While ICT is a central pillar of Europe’s climate strategy, the Green Deal does not provide a detailed roadmap for how these technologies will deliver these goals.
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OUR PROPOSALS FOR A GREEN TECH SECTOR
To achieve the objectives set out in the Paris Agreement, the EU will need to make sure that the full impacts of ICT are considered systematically and that specific regulations to limit carbon and energy consumption are put in place. This will need to be backed by the availability of objective, high-quality, up-to-date data and analysis on the ICT sector’s environmental footprint.
The Greens/EFA Group are proposing to
- Give consumers the right to repair their own devices (or pay someone else to repair them).
- Allow consumers to make sustainable choices through labels that show the environmental impacts of technology.
- Enact minimum sustainability requirements, including reparability and longevity for all products on the market, so people aren’t forced to buy new products.
- Promote a culture of reuse and encourage sustainable consumer choices by tackling greenwashing and fake environmental claims.
- Generate jobs and opportunities by promoting a “repair economy” and investing in a secondary market for re-using raw materials.
- Develop a skills-based labour market and encourage skills transferability in the context of the circular transition.
- Aim for zero harmful substances, and make sure this is central to goals of the Circular Economy.
- Require transparency and reporting when it comes to the impact of technology on greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, life-cycle impacts and other externalities, and publish this in an open database
- Include environmental impacts as decision-making criteria when developing public policies for the purchase and use of digital equipment.
- Implement 2030 EU-targets for a significant reduction in the use of materials and incorporate the climate impact of technology in upcoming laws and regulations on artificial intelligence (AI). This implies setting up specific regulations to limit carbon and energy consumption are put in place.