Dynamic Coalition on Internet rights and Principles: Internet Futures and the Climate Crisis

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Session:
Dynamic Coalition

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[Read more session reports and updates from the 14th Internet Governance Forum]

Participants of this dynamic coalition focused on ecological impacts of technology, as well as the ways these can be addressed. The moderator, Ms Minda Moreira (Co-chair at Internet Rights and Principles Coalition (IRPC)), introduced the Dynamic Coalition and its focus on the Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet. Moreira announced the launch of the French version of the charter.

Addressing sustainable development challenges, Ms Conor Rigby (Feminist Internet) spoke about ecological sustainability, climate changes, and how these are connected to the Internet. She stressed that due to growing reliance on technology and unclear supply chains, it is difficult to predict the impact of digital communications devices on daily life. According to Rigby, driving up digital consumption generates carbon footprints diminishing the Earth's climate and resources. Rigby pointed out the need to work together to tackle these issues, creating response, heightened awareness, and shift the future of the planet.

Building on Rigbys remarks on carbon footprint, Mr Chris Adams (Founder at ClimateAction.Tech), stressed the need to be aware of the carbon emissions present in every file we download or send. This carbon footprint occurs because the Internet runs on electricity, some of which comes from fossil fuels. Adams explained the need to encourage people through public education and awareness programs to gather and use resources to inform policymakers. He believes that reducing emissions related to the Internet is both an easy task and an ethical issue.

Mr Christopher Olik (Representative for Extinction Rebellion) disagreed with Adams, on the difficulty of reducing emissions. According to Olik, the first step is to accept how extensive the ecological crisis is. Olik explained that having free, sustainable tech products would result in consumers also buying other sustainable products.

Ms Lea Rosa Holfreter (Youth Representation) highlighted the importance of bringing governmental representatives and private representatives from companies (e.g. Google) together to discuss climate issues related to the Internet.

Participants discussed with the audience whether the IGF was appropriate forum to address issues of climate change and the Internet. Some considered this discussion as a first step to explore the issue, but the execution would have to be carried out elsewhere. Others argued that IGF2019 is ideal, because it brings together diverse minds to debate freely.

The session then split into different discussion groups:

  1. The first group discussed solutions that emphasised technological and ethical aspects of climate change, pointing out that other groups already exist - dealing with sustainability and climate change. The participants touched on the sustainable development goals (SDGs) as indicators of progress. According to the group, in many cases, there is a trade-off between design for privacy, design for sustainability, and design for innovation.
  2. The second group discussed the impacts of the Internet and Internet-dependent technologies on the environment, and pointed out that large tech business models are based on data.
  3. the final group dealt with impacts of climate change on real places, such as rising water levels and sinking islands. This group tied impactful regional practices to combat climate change with regional investments in technology.

By Pedro Vilela

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