Scotland will need to take advantage of digital solutions in the future to hit its ambitious net-zero targets, according to digital connectivity consultancy FarrPoint.
Businesses, government, and individuals in Scotland must “embrace” digital technology to increase the chances of reaching Scotland’s target of becoming a net-zero economy by 2045.
The case for achieving net-zero is is becoming increasingly important ahead of COP26, which is taking place in Glasgow later this year. Despite this, while clear targets have been put in place by governments around the world, being able to achieve them in a practical sense will require us to emit more greenhouse gasses (GHG) across a number of sectors in the short term.
Darren Kilburn, principal consultant at FarrPoint, commented: “The Scottish Government has set an ambitious net-zero target. However, moving towards a carbon-neutral future is not as simple as installing a smart meter or using electric vehicles.
“It is clear from the work we have done that, for developed economies, it is not possible to grow the economy, meet net-zero targets, and care for the social wellbeing of a nation, without digital solutions.”
Digital infrastructure, such as fibre broadband, more mobile masts and 5G, will be key to achieving net-zero. Modelling from the consultancy has shown that for every tonne of GHG emitted to deliver Scotland’s digital infrastructure ambitions, up to eight tonnes of GHG emissions could be saved in the long term.
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Kilburn continued: “If we do not increase the pace of investment and implementation in Scotland’s digital infrastructure, we risk not reaching our net-zero target by 2045. However, we must also bear in mind that the work needed to put the infrastructure in place will increase our emissions in the near term before it helps to reduce them.
“Everything we do emits CO2 into the atmosphere – from agriculture to construction and from the development of digital infrastructure to the use of digital devices – and so we must ensure that we balance the impact that creating emissions will have versus the overarching and clear benefits that digital solutions will deliver.”
As well as the adoption of digital solutions, Scotland will need to increase the use of low-carbon technology, plant more trees and ban new diesel and petrol cars in 2030, to reach its 2045 net-zero target.
In 2020, Scotland narrowly missed its target of providing 100% of the country’s energy using renewable sources producing the equivalent 97.4%. In 2011, renewable energy technology contributed to just 37% of the country’s electricity demand.
The country’s next target provide 50% of its energy from renewables by 2030 although, at present Scotland is less than halfway to meeting this goal.