05.03.2020

Environmental Digital Agenda released by German Environmental Ministry

The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety released their comprehensive agenda to ensure the positive effect of digitalization on environment, climate and nature. It defines strategic standards and goals including more than 70 actions of which many are already under way. The 80-page document is the result of comprehensive workshops with more than 200 experts including also representatives of the Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance e.V.. Unfortunately for now, it's only available in Germany. We hope this will change soon and until then this comment might give an impression of the content.

Physical copy of the governance paper

The list of actions provides the most comprehensive approach to the environmental-digital agenda to date, with measures reflecting the many perspectives involved in consultation process, including Innovation, Mobility, Circular Economy, Sustainable Consumption, Environmental Digitalization and others. To this extent it can rightfully be regarded as pioneering work. The SDIA currently concerns itself with the resource efficiency of operating data centers, and we have identified seven relevant measures* in this focus area:

1. Now Studies on the potential of IT- and facility components for climate protection

2. Now “Blauer Engel” certificate for several product groups including energy efficient data center operation, co-location data centers, resource and energy efficient software, servers and storages

3. Now Funding of climate protection in data centers

4. New Sustainable Artificial Intelligence

5. Next Registry for Data Centers within the existing branch catalogue

6. Next Research on KPIs targeting energy and resource efficiency

7. Next Development of EU minimum recycling rates in hardware for digital infrastructure and digital devices

The ambition to address the many facets of digitalization and decarbonization demands a very broad spectrum of perspectives and measures. The ministry has succeeded in drafting a comprehensive document that does just that. In particular, the SDIA supports the goal to increase data availability on data center operations to the wider research community and the ambition to increase climate protection in data centers. These are positions that we have strongly argued for with our input on the digital agenda and we will keep pursuing in the future.

This is why, while we are happy about finding our vision reflected in the Digital Agenda, information about measures towards energy and resource efficiency in data centers still leaves room for interpretation. Considering the ongoing measures, these topics find a strong representation in the implementation of the “Blauer Engel” certification. However, the SDIA in particular will keep pursuing concepts like data center heat, smarter power supply and the goal of higher server utilization even stronger to make sure they will find the resonance they deserve.

Link to the document: https://www.bmu.de/fileadmin/Daten_BMU/Pools/Broschueren/broschuere_digitalagenda_bf.pdf

*The titles of the measures are translated from their German original by the SDIA


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Lasse Schneppenheim

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