September 19, 2021

Connectivity’s critical role in climate action

Case Study By

Mr. Rajeev Suri

Chief Executive Officer, Inmarsat

State of Broadband 2021

The ideas and opinions expressed in this insight are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect those of ITU and UNESCO or the Broadband Commission. The mention of specific companies, products or services does not imply that they are endorsed or recommended by ITU or UNESCO or Broadband Commission in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.

Climate change is here and it is now.

For those who think it is something to come in the future, a new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) sets the record straight.  The WMO analysis shows that the world is now consistently 1 degree Celsius hotter than the late 1800s and that temperatures are rising fast.  The authors say that the chance of the average annual temperature on Earth reaching 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming in the next five years has doubled since last year.  Hope that reduced activity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic would slow the pace of warming appears to be just that: hope, but not reality.
 

That is bad, really bad.  1.5 might sound like a small number, but when put in context of the fact that our planet was only 6 degrees Celsius colder during the last ice age, it is actually a very big number.  The impact on our planet is already well underway.  Hundreds of millions living in coastal areas at risk, more severe storms, prolonged droughts, and more frequent wildfires are just a few of the effects that we are already seeing. In the context of this human-created and truly existential threat, collective action is a must. No person, no organization, no business can be exempt from stepping up and doing their part.

Connectivity is one of the most important tools we have in our toolkit to help find new solutions to reduce the rate of warming.  After all, some of the stunning macro trends we have been experiencing will not go away. Populations will continue to grow.  Mega cities will continue to expand. Globalization will change but not go away.  As these things happen, we need industries of all kinds to become smarter, more productive, and more efficient.  Increased connectivity is an absolute must to make this happen.

Consider the example of a humble shipping container. It is part of a vast marine shipping ecosystem that is both necessary for human welfare and a large emitter of CO2.  In fact, some estimates have suggested that the sector emits more CO2 every year than all of Germany’s annual emissions.

While there is plenty of good work underway in the sector to address these challenges with new fuels, ships and engines, simply reducing waste can have a massive impact. Just-in-time vessel arrivals reduce idling at sea.  Dynamic, AI-driven route optimization for ships, real-time data sharing to ensure prompt maintenance, and flawless value-chain collaboration can have a massive impact – and all need superb connectivity.  Much of that must come from satellite communication providers like Inmarsat given the need for coverage where terrestrial solutions are not available and for truly seamless connectivity.

These gains can be real not just for the maritime industry but also for all industries including:  aviation, automotive, rail, agriculture, mining and energy.  In fact, the ITU has estimated that the use of information and communications technology has the potential to reduce emissions in all sectors by 15% or more.  Satellites are an essential element of that and Inmarsat is committed to doing its part.