COP28InterviewsSustainability

COP28: Climate Change is a Global and Complex Issue

Nayef Bou Chaaya, the Vice President for MEA at AVEVA, says digital solutions can minimise CO² emissions of existing industrial infrastructure

Please tell us about your efforts that ensure a sustainable and equitable digital future.
At AVEVA, we believe that ensuring a sustainable and equitable digital future requires a multifaceted approach. Ours encompasses various aspects of our operations. Firstly, we place significant emphasis on how we operate as a company and our dedication to modelling environmental and ethical stewardship. This dimension is what we refer to as our “operational footprint pillar.”

Moreover, we recognise that our core business, technology, plays a pivotal role in shaping the sustainability landscape. We refer to this as our “technology handprint,” where we actively work to ensure that our solutions empower industries to embrace circular practices, decarbonise, and enhance resilience. We are also working to ensure that our software is designed with green principles in mind and that we measure its energy consumption. To achieve this, we have labs in our R&D centres in India and California.

Additionally, because we are a technology business ourselves, we are talent-driven and talent-focused. Our inclusive culture pillar underscores our commitment to fostering an environment where everyone feels welcome and valued. This, in turn, ties back to our technology handprint, as we firmly believe that diversity and inclusion fuel innovation.

We have joined the Green Software Foundation to share our expertise and pioneer a set of standards and best practices to build sustainability into the DNA of digital infrastructure. Given that 70% of the new value created in the economy over the next decade is expected to be based on digitally enabled business platforms (World Economic Forum), getting these standards right is critical.

What is your commitment to combat climate change?
Digital solutions can minimise CO² emissions of existing industrial infrastructure: they enable companies to maximise efficiency across their value chain, which delivers measurable cost savings that can be reinvested in clean technologies. This proves that data are key to making better use of global resources. Industries that are on a digital transformation journey are on a good track to measure and assess their progress towards net zero.

At AVEVA, our ambition is to accelerate low-carbon innovation and drive circularity and efficiency across the value chain. We want our software to transform how industries are designed and how they operate, to accelerate climate action and reduce inequalities. Our primary focus revolves around assisting energy providers in decarbonising their existing assets and value chains.

We’re also dedicated to expediting the adoption of renewable technologies, such as biofuels, and even exploring emerging technologies like small modular nuclear reactors. Furthermore, our efforts extend to pushing the boundaries of sustainability, encompassing large-scale carbon capture, the widespread production of green hydrogen, and the development of advanced synthetic fuels.

What are the challenges in combatting global environmental issues?
Climate change is a global and complex issue: it transcends borders as pollution and CO2 emissions know no boundaries. Hence, a global discussion is imperative: It’s crucial to involve leaders who can make commitments and drive progress in this area. Game-changing solutions towards a more sustainable world will only come from dialogue and cross-sector partnerships. Advancing necessary and inclusive climate progress relies on building bridges across international communities. Rapid collective action is essential to drive decarbonisation.

What sort of trends do you foresee in the areas of sustainability and technology?
In the context of the ongoing energy transition, AI has a significant role to play in making technologies that may not currently be economically viable more cost-effective and scalable. AVEVA has established a Center of Excellence dedicated to artificial intelligence. We are increasingly focusing on how AI can be harnessed and deployed to drive sustainability. Our particular areas of interest lie in clean hydrogen and carbon capture. To support these endeavours, we’ve developed the AVEVA Process Simulation. This tool assists engineers in the early stages of design, allowing them to map out processes and identify ways to ensure both profitability and environmental friendliness.

Our new libraries for electrolysers and renewables empower engineers to plan and optimise green hydrogen facilities, considering factors like weather patterns and the variability associated with wind and solar resources. This said it’s crucial to emphasise that AI models require proper training on high-quality data to unleash their full potential. While AI holds immense promise, we also recognise that addressing the climate crisis requires a holistic approach that encompasses not only technology but also human factors. It’s a complex challenge that demands a multifaceted solution.

How do you envision your role in shaping a more sustainable future in 2024 and beyond?
To support our customers on their decarbonisation journey, we are driven to lead by example. We’ve established a set of 15 goals to achieve by 2025: we’ve done a lot to reduce our scope one and scope two emissions, which are associated with our operations and the energy we purchase to support our facilities and offices, for example. We’ve achieved a 93% reduction there.

However, our primary focus is now on our value chain because, as part of our ambition, we aim to decarbonise our entire value chain. Our customers, especially in the energy sector, are transitioning to future fuels, and we need to ensure that our solutions can support them in that transition. This is a significant focus point for us, and we are constantly working to make sure that our solutions are fit for the energy transition.

As a member of the Green Software Foundation, we are working with the group to develop a framework that we will use internally when developing our products to ensure they limit carbon emissions from use. Further to this, we’ve invested in developing a methodology to better understand and baseline the energy consumption of our products. We are expanding this testing to cover all of our portfolio of products and will continue to focus on this work in the coming months.

We’re excited to be launching our Sustainability Accelerator, which will serve as a catalyst for deepened sustainable innovation at AVEVA. Through this program, we’ll be able to partner more closely with our Innovation team and colleagues to gain a comprehensive view of the sustainability challenges our customers are facing. This insight, focus and investment will propel us toward the generation of new sustainability solutions that will enable our customers to reach their climate targets faster.

How are you aligning your sustainability initiatives with the themes of COP28?
Decarbonisation, energy efficiency, technology, innovation, hydrogen, smart cities, and water resilience are topics that will be addressed during COP28. What they have in common is that digitalisation can act as an accelerator towards progress and sustainability. Let’s focus on “Energy, Industry and Just Transition” which is one of the key themes of COP this year. Today the industrial sector accounts for a quarter of global emissions. However, reducing this figure is possible through digitalisation: the World Economic Forum estimates that digital technologies at scale will cut emissions by up to 20% by 2050.

Every day, our customers, all from the industrial sector, prove that digitalisation enables them to drive measurable carbon reductions, including for traditionally energy-intensive industries. AVEVA wants to support more and more companies in developing their saved and avoided CO²emission baseline and target. By transforming how industries are designed and how they operate more sustainably, our software contributes to accelerating climate action while driving responsible use of the world’s resources.

Our commitment to sustainability goes beyond COP 28: supporting industrial companies in their net-zero journey is our everyday mission.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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