Ariane Elena Fuchs

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How IoT contributes to achieving the climate goal

Since November 6, the United Nations 2022 Climate Change Conference, or COP27, has been taking place in Sharm El Sheikh. The stated goal: to ensure full implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, thereby limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era. The Internet of Things (IoT) is helping companies to make an important contribution achieving the 1.5 degree target. IoT solutions reduce CO2 emissions and conserve valuable resources.

With IoT, companies are helping to archive the climate goal in many ways.

IoT helps companies cut emissions and improve their sustainability footprint. © Deutsche Telekom/ iStock/ Orbon Alija; Montage: Evelyn Ebert Meneses

As a new report from the UN Climate Change Secretariat shows, international efforts are currently insufficient to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Average greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade have been the highest since records began. Even the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in only a short-lived decline in global emissions. In 2021, they actually exceeded 2019 levels.

There is no time to lose and the forces of politics and business must be combined to keep the promises of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Reducing emissions with IoT

The new U.N. report also notes that the way we power buildings and cities, provide transportation, build our cities and manage our land, grow and consume food, in particular, needs to be made more sustainable. For example, the International Energy Agency reports that the building sector is responsible for 10 percent of global energy-related CO2 emissions. The transportation sector and industry are each responsible for 23 percent.

IoT solutions can make processes more energy and resource efficient and enable entirely new, sustainable business models. In this way, they help companies to cut emissions, improve their sustainability balance sheet and contribute to the climate target. 41 percent of what Germany still needs to save in CO2 emissions by 2030 to meet the climate targets it has set itself can be achieved by accelerating the use of digital technologies. This is shown in a study by the German digital association Bitkom. A new study by Telekom in collaboration with Transforma Insights, which examines the sustainability impact of IoT applications in various industries, also underscores the potential. The following applications and customer examples show how IoT can accelerate the transformation toward a zero-emissions economy:

Optimized driving saves fuel 

Connected fleet vehicles follow more efficient routes, have fewer empty miles and are driven more economically. This not only saves an average of 15 percent fuel, but also protects tires, brakes and batteries. Less wear and tear promotes vehicle longevity and reduces microplastics from tires.

In addition, the more information about a pickup and delivery is known, the better the routes can be optimized. The RETHMANN Group is setting an example: The logistics and waste management companies Rhenus and REMONDIS use fill level sensors to know how full their used glass containers and data garbage cans are. This enables the companies to reduce the number of collection trips, save fuel and cut emissions.

No travel needed for remote maintenance

One example of greater sustainability with smart IoT solutions in industrial environments is remote maintenance. Networked systems make it possible to perform maintenance, checks and support remotely, often supplemented by video and augmented reality applications. Trips that would otherwise have to be made by field service employees are completely eliminated. Remote maintenance of networked machines and devices reduces on-site service calls by an average of 20 to 30 percent. Fewer service trips also mean less fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and maintenance costs.

Petko GmbH, a specialist company for industrial plant engineering and compressed air technology, uses an IoT solution to monitor equipment remotely. This allows technicians to intervene quickly when necessary to prevent downtime. Technicians do not have to search for faults on site, which reduces trips, saves fuel and increases the service life of the machines.

Light and heat on demand

As soon as the sun goes down, lighting systems are often ramped up to 100 percent. But this is not even necessary, because there is almost never complete darkness. Outdoor advertising or illuminated buildings waste so much electricity and energy, and not just since the current energy crisis. Buildings are also often unnecessarily managed by heating underutilized offices or rooms with open windows. IoT solutions for buildings and lighting systems help companies to act according to demand and thus reduce electricity consumption by 10 to 30 percent.

A smart lighting system with IoT controls the Berliner Bogen in Hamburg. The retrofit solution optimally adapts the system to the light level of the environment, optimizes its brightness and automatically reports faults. In this way, less electricity is consumed and trips for maintenance work are reduced.

With the Internet of Things, companies can contribute to achieving the climate target in a variety of ways. 

Deutsche Telekom has also set itself ambitious sustainability targets and is thus contributing to achieving the Paris climate agreement. Deutsche Telekom has already been using 100 percent green power for its networks since 2021. From 2025, Deutsche Telekom aims to cover 50 percent of its European electricity requirements through direct purchase agreements with renewable energy producers, so-called Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), supplemented by its own production. By 2025, the company's own business operations are to be climate-neutral and by 2040, the company along the entire value chain.

Find out more about Deutsche Telekom's sustainability goals and the sustainability impact of IoT: Special Sustainability Day and Sustainable with IoT.