Katrina or Sandy, Andrew or Lothar: Climate change has many names. Just at the beginning of February, it was Sabine who, in the middle of the calendar winter, was still chasing 13° warmth with hurricane gusts of 170 km/h across Germany. Climate change is real and to a large extent man-made. And it has massive effects: thousands of deaths, depopulation, billions of dollars' worth of damage.
It’s obvious that we must limit CO2 emissions and thus global warming. As early as 2017, more resources were consumed worldwide in a year than we could replace. And a large part of this consumption is not caused by private households. It is caused by companies. Any climate policy must therefore always take corporate involvement into account. At the same time, all critics of growth must be clear: Citizens will not accept any economic approach that does not account for people’s prosperity and welfare.
This concept is called Social Market Economy. While it calls for prosperity and public participation, the problem is that it too follows a (conventional) growth concept. And growth simply means consumption of resources and thus, in most cases, CO2 emissions.
So how can we succeed in decoupling economic growth from resource consumption to the greatest extent possible? In my opinion, the answer is “consistent digitization,” focusing on three characteristics that help us to solve these challenges:
Even today, digitization is already providing what I would describe as “quiet green growth” by its very nature. Quiet because, for example, car sharing or the use of online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia save costs or are even free. In this way, they increase our prosperity and standard of living, but are no longer tangible when measuring our gross domestic product. The (digital) growth is there, but it is not evident from the indicators we use. So completely new dimensions of efficiency are emerging.
The energy industry is a vivid example of this. By the end of this year, 30 percent of electricity in the EU countries is to come from solar, wind and water. At Deutsche Telekom, we are even going so far as to source 100 percent of our electricity from renewables Group-wide by 2021 and also reduce emissions from gas, oil and other energy sources. In 10 years, we will have reduced our CO2 emissions by 90 percent compared with 2017. That’s worldwide, by the way, since our international subsidiaries, such as T-Mobile in the USA to name one of the largest, are also included in our Group climate protection target.
“The energy transition can only work digitally.”