Carbon Emissions Plan

– Digital Decarbonisation Consensus & Conjectures

Anne Pasek + Dani Admiss, Tega Brain, Angela YT Chan, Maya Chowdhury, Laura Clarke, Julie Freeman, Louise Hargreaves, Ellie Harrison, Lara Houston, Marija Bozinovska Jones, Adi Kunstman, Jane Lawson, Gretta Louw, Martino Morandi, Padmini Ray Murray, Inge Paneels, Irini Papadimitriou, Anne Pasek, Radek Przedpelski, Caroline Sinders, Rebecca Sinker, Brian Sutherland, Marloes de Valk, Chris Wright.

Digital technologies are both a problem and a solution for climate change. Data-intensive sensing and modelling efforts are essential to knowing much of what we know about global warming, digital networks offer greener alternatives to carbon-laden travel, and smart grids and IoT technologies look to be increasingly necessary to the work of creating more efficient and decentralised energy systems. At the same time, the tech sector’s emissions have grown considerably, now comparable to those of global aviation, while land use conflicts, data privacy issues, harmful global supply chains, and toxic e-waste follow the proliferation of ever more data centres and devices. It’s clear that an effective and equitable path through the mitigation challenges ahead can neither afford to reject digital technologies, nor uncritically embrace them. 

At this juncture, media artists and arts institutions are uniquely positioned to act. In both negotiating technocratic reporting requirements and tabling more equitable and politically capacious responses to the problems and opportunities of digital media and carbon emissions, the arts can act as a testing ground and source of aesthetic and relational provocations for wider questions of climate justice.

In September 2022 Anne Pasek led 24 stakeholders in the arts and technology sector to evaluate the challenges and opportunities they face at the conjuncture of digital technologies and environmental justice. Participants proposed, reviewed, and debated different proposals for climate action in their sector, mapping the political and material impacts of digital decarbonisation strategies on workers, communities, institutions, and the climate. The outcome is a consensus statement that diagnoses the intersecting problems at hand and propose clear directions for stakeholders going forward.