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With the climate change crisis looming, many are betting on novel technological solutions such as carbon capture. We certainly need these sorts of solutions and as soon as possible. But if we want to start reducing emissions now, software may hold the key.
About 51 billion tons of greenhouse gases are added to the atmosphere every year, the bulk of which are in manufacturing and energy. Global producers of goods like cement, steel and plastic account for roughly a third of greenhouse gases (GHGs), while the electricity sector comprises a quarter. While some emissions sources are obvious, others result from indirect activity (scope 3), making them difficult to measure and, consequently, to reduce.
As researchers work to make carbon capture cheaper and more effective, it’s crucial to find ways to reduce emissions today. Software presents one such opportunity. Aided by software, processes can become as much as 10% more efficient, reducing the amount of carbon that continues to accumulate in the atmosphere.
Here are three ways businesses can implement software to reduce their environmental impact:
1. Eliminating waste
The production of consumer and industrial goods has never been optimized to minimize waste. Put another way, some amount of waste has always been justified to create products economically at scale. As a result, engineers reluctant to churn out products of inferior quality tend to add extra raw ingredients, over-estimating rather than under-estimating what’s actually needed.
Software can transform this process. Using machine learning, a piece of software can learn the complicated production process of an item in a matter of minutes, across a wide range of sectors: from a steel beam to a pint of ice cream. Such software can then figure out how to produce the same item with the minimum necessary amount of waste — immediately reducing carbon emissions.
2. Optimizing energy consumption
In the energy sector, software has already become a major driver of efficiency. Once a small area of investments, software now serves as a means of controlling the entire energy proces …