PARIS-DE focuses on the carbon emissions of ICT technology with the goal of ensuring alignment with Paris targets to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. As the most optimistic estimates suggest that carbon emissions of ICT will at best flatten out, a profound change of course is necessary in order to reduce ICT emissions significantly. We seek to ensure future innovations in the digital economy are Paris compliant by design. We do this through a systemic approach to developing a digital sustainability framework featuring consideration of evidence and reflections around responsible innovation. The framework will be instantiated in the cloud as a virtual ‘design’ lab, featuring reusable digital tools for assessing carbon impacts in balance with social impacts for digital economy projects. The framework will be demonstrated and evaluated through three case studies selected to be representative of the digital economy.
The research centres on three key intellectual challenges:
- Constructing a comprehensive methodology to providing an evidence base around carbon emissions of ICT and which takes into account the multiple, often competing narratives
around carbon emissions, including rebound effects;
- Embedding responsible innovation into the fabric of the sustainability framework;
- Developing design principles and approaches for our vision of compliance-by-design, building on the rich heritage of socio-technical design and extending it to embed sustainability and consideration of planetary boundaries.
Importantly, these are mutually supportive strands that collectively inform the framework deliver. As the project aims to develop tools that can change practices, impact is central to its success. We have therefore developed a multi-faceted impact strategy involving a set of partners that reach out to a variety of sectors, influencing industry, policy makers, educational programmes, research councils and professional bodies.
This is a bold and ambitious vision that requires input from a range of different disciplines. If successful, we will deliver a step change in thinking around the design of future Digital Economy projects, and will deliver digitally supported tools for technological innovation that is respectful of planetary boundaries.
Image: Sunflowers by Daniela Simona Temneanu from Noun Project