Linux Foundation’s Sustainability Project Leaders Reflect on Climate Change Challenges at COP27
The Linux Foundation | 25 January 2023
Open source leaders share takeaways from the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations (COP27) and weigh in on the future of open source in sustainability
Image: US Department of Agriculture, photo by Bob Nichols, Public Domain
From November 6th to 18th, 2022, representatives from the Linux Foundation and Hyperledger Foundation took part in the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in the Egyptian coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh. Members of OS-Climate, the Hyperledger Foundation Climate Action and Accounting Special Interest Group, and the Green Software Foundation were granted observer status to join leaders from government, corporations, and non-government organizations to work towards solving the challenge of climate change.
At COP27, one thing that was clear to many is that the complexity of the climate crisis and the pace of change needed will require open source approaches to problem-solving and information sharing – only then will we achieve the required global collaboration to collectively reduce carbon emissions and adapt our communities to survive extreme climate events. We believe that the Linux and Hyperledger Foundations have a role to play in this quickly evolving ecosystem.
Below, hear COP27 takeaways from the people at the helm of OS-Climate, the Hyperledger Climate Action and Accounting SIG, and the Green Software Foundation, including the work underway and the opportunities moving forward.
Truman Semans, Executive Director, OS-Climate; former US Climate Negotiator
UNFCCC Conferences of the Parties (COPs) are three-ring circuses comprising (1) intergovernmental negotiations, (2) a business conference and trade show, and (3) a civil society conference. They’ve been happening annually since COP1 in 1995 in Berlin, where I participated as part of the US delegation. They’ve grown from a few hundred participants then to 49,704 at COP27.
The primary purpose of COPs is to advance action by nations in addressing climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience through intergovernmental agreements on policies and government finance. A second mission is to help drive action by “non-state actors,” including companies and financial institutions. Academic and NGO organizations engage to provide information to the negotiation process and to lobby governments.
For an organization to gain significant value from attending a COP, it has to invest substantial time, effort, and money. For example, members of the OS-Climate staff and members invested a few hundred hours preparing for onsite activities and approximately USD 90,000. The results of this preparation included (1) further strengthening OS-Climate’s growing brand recognition as one of the leading business and finance data and information organizations globally, (2) connecting with more than 150 current and prospective members and partners, and (3) strengthening our relationship with two of our premier members (BNP Paribas and Goldman Sachs) and a few general members.
We believe the Linux Foundation (LF) can and should be the leading organization for organizing and enabling open source action on climate data and analytics. Many open source actors are involved in the UNFCCC process, business/finance, and civil society, but the LF has the track record and capabilities.
The Linux Foundation's investment in time, effort, and resources could impact global action on climate, the global environment itself, and the lives of billions of people.
Several Linux Foundation projects are already actively engaged in climate, clean energy, and other sustainability goals, including OS-Climate, Hyperledger Foundation, LF Energy, CNCF, LF Networking, LF Edge, AgStack, and the Green Software Foundation. Projects that have not been focusing directly on climate and energy but that already have or could have a material impact on UNFCCC-related goals include AGL, Open Manufacturing Platform, and Zephyr.
Sherwood Moore, Co-chair of Hyperledger Climate Action and Accounting Special Interest Group
This was my first opportunity to attend COP. In my conversations with government, corporate, and NGO leaders, the common theme I heard was the importance of and lack of up-to-date, accessible, and interoperable emissions data. The complexity of the climate challenge will require a new era of human collaboration. The first step, a foundational step to move forward, is the ability to work from the same trusted information.
In many ways, my experience at COP27 affirmed the work of the Climate Action and Accounting SIG Lab. For example, the solutions we are developing, such as the Net Emissions Token Network, can be used to achieve a free flow of emissions data to create emissions profiles across value chains.
The Linux Foundation has a unique opportunity to take a leadership role in this space, and the opportunity is vast. COP27 provided an opportunity to begin conversations with key players to help them understand why they should work within our ecosystem and where they fit. These relationships will be critical to increasing our agency to positively impact this important and evolving problem space.
Chris Adams, Policy Working Group Chair, Green Software Foundation
This year was the first time the Linux Foundation was an official observer at one of the COP conferences. One of the key takeaways was that in many areas, open source and open data could be key enablers for climate change action.
COP27 was the halfway point for a process known as the “global stocktake.” You can think of this as the mechanism used to track how far along every country that signed the Paris Agreement to limit global warming really is, compared to both their earlier pledges and what the science tells us is necessary.
At COP27, it wasn't hard to find examples of technological solutions to myriad challenges that face us, from tracing methane leaks to replacing fossil fuel generation with clean energy and many others.
At the same time, the tech sector has a significant carbon footprint comparable to the shipping industry. For digital technologies to be true enablers for emissions reductions, there's a clear need to ensure that when we replace a process with a digitized one, it gets us closer to our climate targets.
To support this end, at COP27, Green Software announced several initiatives to support this goal, from a free, certified Green Software for Practitioners course, as well as the SCI specification, a standardized protocol to measure the carbon emissions of software to achieve wide industry and academic adoption, a pattern library for engineers to adopt in their own software designs, along with a month-long global hackathon, Carbonhack, demonstrating these techniques and the impact they can have in reducing emissions from information technologies.
One theme from discussions relating to the global stocktake concluding at COP27 is those openly available standards and open implementations for measuring whether nations and organizations are on track to make the required carbon reductions are essential. Many Linux Foundation projects meet these needs, providing a solid ground for others 'higher up the stack' in many cases.
The Linux Foundation is committed to exploring how open source data models, standards, and technologies can enable a decarbonized economy. The lessons we learned at COP27 clarified that there is a crucial opportunity for us to contribute to this effort by developing open source solutions that provide accurate, curated, up-to-date, accessible, and interoperable emissions data, as well as open source tools that enable asset owners, asset managers, banks, and real economy companies to accelerate Net Zero-aligned resilient investment and finance in the companies and projects that are climate-sustainable; enable real economy companies to accelerate their transition through Paris-aligned R&D, product development, and CapEx; provide regulators the information needed to manage systemic risk across the economy; empower policymakers and civil society to press for change more effectively. We are excited to be part of this important movement! By taking a leadership role in this space with our projects, standards, and protocols, we hope to support global climate action in meaningful ways.
We are committed to playing our part by continuing to build collaborative networks of experts from all sectors and backgrounds, investing in research and development, providing support for projects, encouraging knowledge sharing around advancements such as blockchain technology, unveiling developments related to carbon accounting systems, and creating a platform for engaging stakeholders. Our ultimate goal is to foster collaboration between government, businesses, NGOs, and academia to move faster toward a more sustainable future.
We invite you to join us on this journey! Together let's make progress towards a more sustainable world.
- Hyperledger’s Climate Action and Accounting SIG
- Green Software Foundation
- LF Energy
- CNCF Environmental Sustainability WG
- AgStack Foundation
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