The tech sector is urging the Albanese Government to adopt recommendations to galvanise the role technology is playing in reducing Australia's carbon emissions, growing the economy and realising the opportunity for Australia to export green expertise and capability.
Australia's peak body for innovation technology, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), has launched a white paper, Tech and Sustainability, How the technology sector is driving Australia's transition to a net-zero economy, urging government to adopt and support green technology practices.
"The AIIA has consulted widely to develop these recommendations, which will help Australia meet its net carbon zero goals and importantly grow the economy and make Australia a green tech leader," says AIIA CEO Simon Bush.
"The AIIA and our members realises that the tech sector is both a large user of energy and water but also creates and provides the green and carbon reduction innovations across the economy," he says.
"Our sector is a key enabler of a reduced carbon footprint for Australia's economy and with government take-up of these recommendations, technology can achieve even more for sustainability goals. This is a key point in Australia's transition to net-zero by 2050."
With 14 recommendations made to government, the white paper has identified a range of key areas including cloud adoption, government carbon reporting, and green skills that need to be addressed to support innovative technologies to help the reduction of carbon emissions.
Recommendation areas include:
- Support the development of innovative technologies that drive the energy transition that will include international applications to reduce carbon emissions
- For Government to harness energy-efficient clouds and data centres for neighbouring Pacific Island countries as well as in Australia
- For government agencies to invest in the ability to capture and report carbon footprint across its business, allowing government to be an exemplar and lead in reporting on the carbon impacts of its own procurements
- Government to provide greater training and support for labour mobility for workers with green skills, including embedding ESG into the Australian Digital Capability Framework
Supported with case studies by a range of AIIA members including Accenture, Adobe, Amazon Web Services, CDC Data Centres, Cisco, Deloitte, Fujitsu and more, the paper highlights the many activities the tech sector is already actively engaged in to support carbon emission reduction.
"In putting together this white paper, we were reminded of the incredible innovation the tech sector continues to drive," says Bush.
"The practical measures adopted by our members that have reduced energy usage, in turn reducing carbon emissions, demonstrate the many benefits of the 14 recommendations we are putting forward to government in this paper," he says.
"There is a long way to go to achieve net-zero by 2050, but technology will be core to reducing emissions and transforming the economy, with critical and emerging technologies such as AI, robotics and quantum also playing a role."
Bush says the global movement of reducing emissions is opening new industries and economic opportunities.
"Investment to support these innovations will help Australian businesses and jobs to flourish, enabling Australia to export services and products that reduce emissions on a global scale," he says.
"New entities such as the National Reconstruction Fund and the Net-Zero Authority provide ready-made avenues to partner and support commercialisation of new climate technologies and capabilities."
According to the AIIA, at the heart of this economic transition must be a highly skilled workforce that is highly mobile across sectors.
"Technology impacts every economic sector. To deliver economy wide reductions in emissions and growth in productivity, a strong workforce that can be readily upskilled is needed," Bush says.
"Across VET courses, undergraduate and through microcredentials, we urge government to embed consideration for green skills to support the economic transition.," he says.
Bush says Government decisions on procurement is another key area that is currently not sufficiently analysed through a sustainability lens.
"Government procurement directives and decisions can significantly impact the practices of industry. That is why we urge the government to invest in the ability for agencies to capture and report its carbon footprint across its activities," he says.
"This will further allow government agencies to demonstrate carbon reduction efforts and a commitment to action in this important area."