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UK's Met Office and Microsoft sign supercomputer deal
by Paul Hill
Microsoft has announced that it has signed a multimillion-pound agreement with the Met Office – the UK government’s meteorological service – for the provisioning of a new supercomputer that will improve weather and climate forecasting.
According to Microsoft, the new supercomputer will be in the top 25 supercomputers worldwide and will be twice as powerful as any of the other supercomputers in the UK. As the planet continues to heat up, the new supercomputer will be able to help the country prepare for the more severe storms, floods, and snow that is expected in the coming years.
Commenting on the agreement, Penny Endersby, Chief Executive of the Met Office, said:
Microsoft and the Met Office plan to have the new supercomputer up and running sometime in the summer of 2022. Over the 10-year lifespan of the agreement, financial benefits are expected to reach up to £13 billion.
As with all supercomputers, this one will be energy-intensive. Microsoft said that it will be powered by 100% renewable energy and will take advantage of energy efficiency methods. It’s expected that these efforts will save 7,415 tonnes of CO2 in the first year of operational service alone.
By Ather Fawaz
China's bitcoin mining empire is at odds with the country's pledge to go carbon-neutral
by Ather Fawaz
Researchers from Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have said that China's power-hungry bitcoin mining empire could undermine the country's pledge to peak carbon emissions by 2030 and eventually go carbon neutral by 2060. The study, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, says that close to 40% of China's bitcoin mines are powered by coal and will produce 130.5 million metric tons of carbon emissions by 2024.
Bitcoin, after growing fivefold in the past year alone, eclipsed the $50,000 threshold in February and reached a record high of over $61,000 in March. It is the largest of the 6,600 cryptocurrencies tracked by CoinGecko and makes up more than 50% of the entire $2 trillion market cap of cryptocurrency.
Historically, the study claims that from January 1, 2016, through June 10, 2018, up to 13 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions were generated from bitcoin mining alone. As of April 2020, China alone accounted for 78.89% of the global blockchain operations. Should this trend continue, the emission output would exceed the total annual greenhouse gas emission output of Qatar and the Czech Republic.
With cheap electricity rates in the country and companies growing more benign towards cryptocurrency, Bitcoin mining is predicted to become even more ubiquitous in the near future. A study by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance from August last year suggested that Bitcoin-related power consumption reached a record high last year with the equivalent of seven nuclear power plants (or 21.8 million solar panels) being pulled by the global mining industry alone.
Moving forward, the study suggests that imposing carbon taxes alone is not enough to mitigate carbon emissions. Instead, the Chinese government should focus on shifting the industry to renewable sources of energy.
Source: Guardian and ZDNet
Nokia base stations to see huge power consumption reduction
by Paul Hill
Nokia has announced that it plans to halve its 5G base station power consumption over the next two years. The firm will aim towards these emission reductions by making “continuous improvements” to the software that controls the base stations and by developing new AirScale 5G mMIMO Base Station variants that use the latest SoCs which are more power-efficient.
Commenting on the work to reduce the emissions of its base stations, Ari Kynäslahti, Head of Technology and Strategy at Nokia Mobile Networks, said:
In its announcement, Nokia recognised that 5G is set to dramatically increase network traffic, therefore, it wants to implements techniques such as advanced sleep mode and other power-saving features to cut the energy usage.
By reducing base station emissions, Nokia will be able to more easily work towards its wider goal of halving its 2019 emission by 2030, which it announced at the start of the month. It said that it is working towards new, more ambitious Science Based Targets (SBTs) that will bring it in line to meet the 1.5°C global warming scenario rather than the 2.0°C scenario.
Nokia to halve its 2019 emissions by the decade's end
by Paul Hill
Nokia has today announced that it will reduce its emissions by 50% from its operations and products in use by the end of the decade compared to 2019. The Finnish firm has called its ambitions Science Based Targets (SBTs) and says they’re in line to meet a 1.5°C global warming scenario.
The firm said that it created SBTs back in 2017 which would bring it in line with a 2.0°C global warming scenario but managed to reach 90% of its targets within its operations 11 years ahead of time so now it’s going for a more ambitious goal. The new targets will apply to almost 100% of the firm’s current portfolio and include emissions from logistics and assembly factories in its supply chain as well as from its own operations.
Commenting on the news, Nokia’s President and CEO Pekka Lundmark said:
Nokia is not alone in its efforts to drive down its emissions. Other tech firms including IBM, Amazon, Microsoft and Uber are part of The Climate Pledge which calls on signatories to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 ahead of the Paris Agreement deadline. Under the Paris Agreement, nations and the private sector have to bring down their emissions so much than global warming can be limited to 1.5°C by 2100.
KaiOS teams up with Justdiggit to connect rural communities
by Paul Hill
KaiOS Technologies, the firm behind KaiOS, has announced a new partnership with Justdiggit, a Dutch-based foundation concerned with restoring degraded ecosystems. The two firms will supply 300 rural farmers in Tanzania with KaiOS smart feature phones to get information to them that will improve their livelihoods and help them to regreen their farms to fight desertification.
Each of the devices come pre-loaded with a new Regreen App that has been developed by KaiOS. The content in the application is sourced from Justdiggit which advocates proven and scalable regreening techniques that have already been used on 60,000 hectares of farmland in Africa in three years.
According to KaiOS, the threat of desertification and droughts in Africa is huge. It said that 350 million smallholder farmers already deal with these problems or are expected to in the coming years and they can lead to a range of problems including failed harvests and poverty which subsequently creates climate refugees who move to different parts of the world looking for a new way to get by.
KaiOS phones are designed to be affordable and bridge the gap between feature phones and smartphones. While they typically use a feature phone design, they are equipped with apps such as WhatsApp, Google Maps, YouTube and Facebook. Bringing these devices to the 300 participants, not only helps them better manage their farms but also helps to close the digital divide.
As an additional benefit to recipients, KaiOS devices come equipped with the Life app which can help provide users with health advice, financial education, digital skills and more.
After using the devices for several weeks, KaiOS was keen to find out from participants whether they would pay for a device with 52% saying they would spend between $22-28. The firm said that devices with KaiOS already exist in the price range and that it’s a positive sign for the scalability and sustainability of this initiative.
KaiOS is going to work with other partners in the future to scale up this initiative so that it can get devices into the hands of farmers across the African continent.