The 26th annual Climate Change Conference of the Parties, also called COP26, began on October 31 in Glasgow and is now coming to a close. The summit brought global parties together to discuss how nations can work individually and collaboratively to meet collective climate-change goals outlined in the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change.

Technology is going to play an important role in helping the U.S. meet its climate-change goals. An analysis published in October from Rhodium Group suggests that without new action, the U.S. will not meet its 2030 target of a 50-52% reduction in GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions. The Rhodium Group’s analysis took a look at current policy as of May 2021 and determined the existing trajectory would result in GHG emissions that were 17-25% below 2005 levels by 2030, leaving a gap of up to 2.3 billion metric tons of emission reductions between the U.S.’s goal and reality. However, the analysis predicts the 2030 target is achievable with immediate action—and, likely, some help from the latest tech.

The ZETA (Zero Emission Transportation Assn.) is and has been advocating for EV (electric vehicle) provisions in Congressional actions that work toward carbon neutrality because, according to the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), the transportation sector produces the largest share of GHG emissions (29%) and, therefore, cannot be left out of the equation. In fact, ZETA points to EVs as being among the U.S.’s “most powerful tools” for fighting climate change. The EV-related provisions included in two Congressional actions, the BBBA (Building Back Better Act) and the IIJA (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act), could make a sizable impact, reducing GHG emissions by at least 1,500 million metric tons by 2030.

Transportation is only part of the picture when it comes to carbon production, though; the urban environment in general produces a majority of carbon emissions, and urbanization trends may drive the percentage up in coming years. One topic of discussion at COP26 was how digital twins can curtail the urban environment’s part in the global climate crisis. IBM defines a digital twin as “a virtual representation of an object or system that spans its lifecycle, is updated from realtime data, and uses simulation, machine learning, and reasoning to help decisionmaking.”

Digital twins can be crucial in curbing emissions from buildings, as well as tracking and understanding the effects of environmental stressors like deforestation. A study from Ernst & Young suggests digital twins could reduce GHG emissions in the built environment by 50%, reduce real estate operating costs by 35%, and boost productivity by 20%. Companies like Cityzenith are helping to bring digital twin solutions to cities through initiatives like Cityzenith’s Clean Cities, Clean Future, which offers its SmartWorldOS Digital Twin platform to cities for free to help city managers track, manage, and reduce emissions. With cities like New York and Las Vegas already onboard, the company hopes its tech will demonstrate how cities worldwide can dramatically reduce operating costs and emissions with very little investment cost.

Will shifts in EV policy, including investments in EV charging infrastructure, as well as continued adoption of digital twin technologies for shrinking carbon footprints in the built environment help the U.S. meet its GHG emission targets by 2030? The data suggests yes, it’s possible, but it’s going to be a close one. Events like COP26 underline the importance of coming together globally to address climate change now, because immediate action on the parts of many will be necessary to protect the earth for future generations.

Want to tweet about this article? Use hashtags #IoT #sustainability #AI #5G #cloud #edge #digitaltransformation #machinelearning #infrastructure #climatechange #environment #digitaltwins #transportation #EV#electricvehicles