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Countering Climate Change With Sustainable Solutions (A Journey To Net Zero)

Microsoft has just announced its Cloud for Sustainability to help companies measure, understand and take charge of their carbon emissions, set sustainability goals and take measurable action.

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Global warming and the importance of sustainability has become self-evident: We cannot maintain our quality of life as human beings, the diversity of life on Earth, or Earth's ecosystems unless we find ways to meet our own needs today, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

As climate change intensifies globally, erratic weather patterns have become more extreme. The effects of recent intense droughts, heatwaves, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers have made society exquisitely aware of humanity's impact on the environment. Society's collective responsibility for, and movement towards, a sustainable future is driving a sea change in the corporate landscape.

This collective responsibility and interdependence are illustrated by the image of Earth taken on December 7, 1972, by the Apollo 17 crew, on its way to the moon, from a distance of about 18,000 miles from the planet's surface. The old-school Hasselblad photograph is named "The Blue Marble." It has become a symbol of the environmental movement to depict Earth's frailty, vulnerability, and isolation amid the vast expanse of space.

The "Blue Marble" image shows that there are no borders between countries when viewed from space, and we are all in this together. Leading conglomerates like Microsoft, BP, Nike, and GM recognize this. They show that sustainable innovation is a key priority in their business models, paving the way for other companies to commit.

To adequately address the climate crisis, the world must urgently reduce its carbon emissions. Over the past few years, world leaders have realized a dire need to counter climate change with unique solutions. One such solution is switching to electric vehicles.

According to the International Energy Organization IEA, transportation is responsible for 24% of direct global CO2 emissions from fuel combustion. Road vehicles – cars, trucks, buses, and two- and three-wheelers – account for nearly three-quarters of transport CO2 emissions, and emissions from aviation and shipping continue to rise at a faster rate than for any other transport mode. These trends highlight the need for a greater international policy focus on these hard-to-abate subsectors. The good news is that with increasing awareness, government policy, and electrification, global transport emissions increased by less than 0.5% in 2019 (compared with 1.9% annually since 2000) owing to efficiency improvements, electrification, and greater use of biofuels.

Research has revealed that electric cars are far better for the environment as they emit fewer greenhouse gasses and air pollutants than their petrol or diesel counterparts. According to a study, simply one electric car on the roads can save around 1.5 million grams of carbon dioxide. That's roughly the equivalent of four return flights from London to Barcelona.

However, we live in a complex world, and we must understand the need for sustainability through a lens that views more than just a company's carbon footprint. We must widen the aperture to encompass the company, the industry, and, more importantly, the entire ecosystem. For example, we are transitioning to electric vehicles (EVs) to reduce carbon emissions. EVs require a charging infrastructure that is dependent on the energy grid. This grid must source meaningful energy from renewable resources rather than fossil fuel power plants, or we will create as much carbon as we save. EVs are now connected vehicles and will eventually have autonomous capabilities to interact with smart cities and infrastructure. So, sustainability depends on the intersection and interaction of an ecosystem comprised of automotive and energy industries and public sector players.

Underpinning it all is data that companies need to measure their sustainability initiatives' impact, track progress, and receive benefits such as carbon credits. For example, CIOs need to report on IT carbon emissions from the cloud, devices, and applications as part of their department's environmental footprint. Moreover, companies will need to offer their customers and the 'street' a sustainability scorecard to track progress against their carbon emission reduction goals, which will ultimately impact stock prices.

Microsoft has just announced its Cloud for Sustainability to help companies measure, understand and take charge of their carbon emissions, set sustainability goals and take measurable action.

As Lead Industry Strategist, Automotive, Mobility & Transportation, David Catzel has a strategic view of the world as an ecosystem of ecosystems. No company exists in isolation but belongs to a larger industry, a component of several intersecting ecosystems. His work on sustainability and the future of mobility is focused at this intersection of cloud, sustainability, and the energy, transportation, and public sector industries. Here, David Catzel is engaged with partners including Automotive OEMs, Airlines, Ports, Public Sector Strategic Infrastructure, EV charging infrastructure providers, cities, and global sustainability organizations to be a catalyst for digital transformation and an advocate for sustainability.

David Catzel was born on May 17, 1953, in Boston, Massachusetts. He is a leading business innovator and strategic multimillion-dollar business builder. In his current role at Microsoft, he engages with senior leadership at the major Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) companies, Tier Ones, Airlines and Couriers, and Transportation leaders focusing on developing next-generation mobility solutions. David Catzel's current line of work is starkly different from what he initially started with. He started his career as a producer at a multimedia and events production company. Open to learning new things and expanding his horizon, David Catzel worked on a broad spectrum of projects, including large-scale new product launches for notable car companies.

After building a strong portfolio in the corporate communications sector, David Catzel sought to expand his film and video business skills. Along with his partner Kit Thomas, he launched KitCat, a music video production company. Soon, his agency became a prominent name in the market and produced music videos for a wide variety of artists, such as Donna Summer, John Denver, and The Judds. While KitCat was enormously successful, the market was evolving, and both partners decided to opt for different routes. While Kit Thomas continued his career in music production, David Catzel decided to follow his passion for technological innovation. In 1990, he joined IBM Partner Company North Communications, a global leader in software and interactive kiosk development.

After leading the development and deployment of interactive kiosk networks for governments worldwide at North Communications for almost three years, David Catzel was recruited by LucasFilm in 1994. As Technical Director, he was entrusted with developing a next-generation media and technology systems control package to enable George Lucas's vision for Entertainment Marketplaces which changed complexion from morning through night. Catzel's design combined several elements, such as lighting, projections, and effects, to offer visitors an immersive shopping and entertainment experience. Even though due to changing business priorities the project was deprioritised, the experience further strengthened David Catzel's media, technology, and digital innovation skills.

In 1996, Microsoft recruited David Catzel for a Senior Developer Platform Evangelist role to lead the company's engagement with the entertainment sector as a partner rather than simply a technology provider. Harnessing his diversified skill set, David Catzel built a cross-divisional matrixed team to drive Microsoft's Media and Entertainment Recruit program. His tasks included overseeing the development and successful launch of the first Xbox media channels for Sony, Fox, and Paramount Pictures, and leading Microsoft's Content Creation in the Cloud program through proof of concepts with Adobe, Avid, Red, Arri, 5th Kind, and other key industry influencers and solution providers.

In his current Industry Strategist role at Microsoft, David Catzel works with senior leadership at major corporations to develop multi-horizon partnership relationships to transform their business while adhering to sustainability principles. He Chairs an international, multi-industry Sustainability Working Group. Furthermore, David Catzel represents Microsoft on the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) whose output will be debuted at COP26, the global United Nations summit about climate change and how countries plan to tackle it. The event is due to take place in Glasgow from 9 - 19 November. David Catzel's portfolio and worldview provide thought leadership and serve as an inspiration for aspiring technology innovators.