Sustainability statement for the Responsible Technology Institute
The Institute is founded in a Responsible Innovation (RI) methodology that already seeks to produce societally-beneficial outcomes – including environmental considerations. The methods utilised across the Institute’s research projects will be applied to the Institute.
It is our plan that the Institute should measure and demonstrate its own carbon footprint, including seeking Paris-compliance in terms of minimising this footprint, and we believe this should be standard research practice.
Environmental considerations for the Institute
Members of the team already have experience with carbon-mitigation, having created Oxford’s first carbon-neutral conference in 2019, and are aware that offsetting is a poor second to avoiding carbon creation in the first place. The Institute will adopt a carbon mitigation research practice. The first step is to be able to measure the project’s energy use. The Institute is therefore seeking a carbon-assessment partner to measure its carbon footprint, and will work with a company that can provide such an assessment.
In particular, specific actions will be taken:
Equipment: No new computers will be automatically purchased for the Institute; instead we will re-use existing infrastructure in our organisations. Given the low technical requirements, it is unlikely that there will be a need for purchasing other hardware.
Travel: This will be kept to a minimum. Although some face-to-face meetings (and therefore travel) will be necessary, the Covid situation has accustomed researchers to making more use of videoconferencing for day-to-day administrative matters. We of course understand that videoconferencing also has an impact, but it is a significantly smaller one than travel, and this trade-off will be assessed. Some elements of the Institute’s work will need to happen on an in-person basis – for example selected workshops – but again, travel and other matters will be meticulously logged. Overall, the Institute pledge to minimise travel (incl. meetings, conference attendance).
We hope that the work of the Institute in studying and promoting responsible ways of innovating and carrying out technological development will be of considerable environmental and social benefit. We hope to both raise awareness and provide a pathway to carbon reduction. The UN has called for specific actions in the wake of the pandemic to ‘rebuild better’ and this is the optimum time to be measuring and mitigating the impact of the digital economy. The Institute will make space for reflecting on its own work, highlighting best practices and constantly seeking to improve its own environmental footprint
The Institute is aware that its own knowledge of how best to minimise, measure and counter its carbon may be incomplete and welcomes comment and feedback on this.