Force Conference Session 3

The 4IR – Environment nexus


As described in the FORCE Working Paper on the 4IR-Environment nexus, new technologies are both substantial enablers of climate change mitigation/adaptation and sources of rising emissions, electronic waste and environmental degradation. Session 3 presentations contributed to the exploration of this dual aspect of the 4IR.

Prof. Haris Doukas


Prof. Haris Doukas (School of Electrical & Computer Engineering of the National Technical University of Athens) presented the significant possibilities encompassed in new technologies (IoT, AI, 5G), big data and advanced analytics for the decarbonization, digitization, decentralization and democratization of the energy system. Decentralization of the energy system means that customers can become active elements of the systems. The new consume centric model encompasses significant economic and technical advantages among which carbon emissions reduction.


Prof. Doukas described the main technological prerequisites for the evolution from centralized to decentralized consumer centric electricity markets. This evolution goes in line with the emergence of prosumers, a new player in the energy system beyond producers and consumers (prosumers can be households, commercial buildings, and industry and energy communities). Intelligent Energy Management and data can contribute to the empowerment of prosumers.

Pr. Doukas concluded his presentation by describing the challenges which need to be met in order for new technologies to contribute to the decentralization and democratization of the energy system.

Mr. Eric Vidalenc


The session continued with Mr. Eric Vidalenc’s presentation on the rising climate and environmental impact of new technologies. Eric Vidalenc, Energy & Environmental Expert, and author of the book “For a digital ecology” initiated his analysis focusing on the concept of digital materiality and on the convergences and the tensions between the twin transition (energy and digital).


Mr. Vidalenc highlighted the ecological limits of the digital economy given its heavy dependence on energy. The endless increase of data, the dark side of infrastructures and electronic waste and the governance of the sector by digital corporate giants make of the digital economy a brake –and not a levy- in the energy transition.

In order to form a more sustainable path for the digital economy and optimize its contribution to sustainable development, Mr. Vidalenc proposed three main priorities:

– Adopting the concept of digital sobriety.

– Transforming the digital economy in all its dimensions in order to make it more sustainable (hardware and infrastructures, software, use of services).

– Using digital technologies for changing consumption and production patterns (car sharing, carpooling, collaborative and functional economy, etc.).