On 13-14 May, 35 scientists and industry representatives participated in an expert workshop on the impacts of digitalisation on energy, materials, the economy, markets, lifestyles, and society, and how these impacts directly or indirectly affect greenhouse gas emissions. Hosted by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) outside Vienna in Austria, the workshop was organised by a team from the 2D4D and iDODDLE projects, with additional support from the RCN-DEE, CircEUlar, and EDITS networks.

The workshop’s aims were to understand how both current and future trajectories of digital transformation impact emission-reduction efforts. This aim was motivated by the weak explicit consideration of digitalisation in future scenarios and modelling assessments used to inform EU and global climate policy. This includes the thousands of scenarios reviewed in the IPCC’s recent 2022 assessment, few of which make any mention of digitalisation as a transformative force shaping economic and social life.

The workshop took certain premises as common start points. First, digitalisation is a transformative and pervasive force creating both opportunities and risks for emission reductions across all sectors and domains. Second, digitalisation comprises widely different technologies and applications from platforms and cloud computing to internet of things and AI. Third, digital and climate governance need to be better integrated, in turn requiring joint scientific assessment of digital impacts on climate-relevant issues, and vice versa.