MASTERCLASS: How to harness the power of data for a net-zero mobility world?

How do you calculate a company’s carbon footprint? And how do you do so with any measure of accuracy?

A hyper complex stream of interconnected data – Stefan Unterhuber, Senior Director of Decarbonization at Atos, pointed out that it is impossible today for travelers going from point A to point B to calculate the totality of their carbon emissions during the trip. The reason for this is the sheer amount and complexity of the information that would need to be collected and analysed, such as raw materials, vehicle production infrastructure, maintenance services, traffic management systems, and so on. It becomes a virtually unsolvable puzzle without having the right data on hand.

In a nutshell, three scopes of emissions need to be considered in order to calculate the carbon footprint along the entire value chain:

  • Scope 1 covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources.
  • Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the reporting company.
  • Scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain.

A role for a company’s IT professionals – According to Mr. Unterhuber, the role of calculating a company’s footprint during the transition to net-zero lies with the company’s IT department. In Europe, there are a number of initiatives—Fiware and Gaia-X, for example—that can help create an environment of trust for sharing sensitive information in the world of connected mobility.

Only leaders show the way – Though factors such as regulations, data security and anonymity come into play, companies need to overcome the inertia or protectionism when it comes to sharing their data and methods of calculation. Ultimately, the objective of calculating one’s carbon footprint is not to monitor people, but to monitor carbon emissions. By calling for transparency in data exchange, it will be possible to determine the cost in emissions of getting from Point A to Point B, which will not only benefit users by helping them make informed choices, but it will benefit the planet as well.

Companies that are transparent will be perceived as proactive leaders in the fight against climate change. Even companies in high emission industries stand to gain from being transparent, showing they have a plan in place, and using reporting processes such as those developed by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

Open minds, open data – One participant pointed out that the average citizen needs to be aware of supply chain emissions. Mr. Unterhuber agreed, saying citizens are not aware of the carbon impact of most products or services they buy or use. Another participant suggested considering data as a common asset accessible to anyone and regulated by governments. Stefan Unterhuber admitted that the standardization of information exchange is still a slow process, in which governments, non-governmental organizations and industrial sectors must assume their respective roles.

In zero emission mobility, data plays as strategic a role as does the willingness to share data for the benefit of all.

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