The Shift Project is a French think tank that advocates the need to shift to a post-carbon economy. It is a useful resource for data centres in their search for information and advice about decarbonisation.
Shift Project participates in the DC THINK TANK together with abaxum.net
- Data centres are becoming more central in the move to decarbonisation
In a previous blog, I talked about whether data centres were doing enough to combat climate change. As the use of cloud increases, data centres will become more responsible for a larger chunk of worldwide carbon emissions. They are also huge customers of energy providers. In this role, they can and should apply pressure to their providers to move towards renewable energy sources—but must also take more responsibility for reducing their own demands.
- The Shift Project aims to inform and influence. It is a non-profit organisation, with a focus on scientific objectivity. It aims to inform and influence the debate on decarbonisation in Europe. It does this through setting up working groups, producing quantified statements on key issues, and developing proposals for change. It uses the findings of its working groups to lobby decision-makers. It also hosts events to stimulate discussion among stakeholders and builds partnerships with academics and professional organisations.
- It wants to bring together work on climate and work on energy sources
The drive towards decarbonisation is two-fold. The first aspect is concern about global warming and climate change. The second is that fossil fuels are a finite resource, and will eventually run out, meaning that we need alternative sources of energy. Few of those concerned with decarbonisation are focused on both these aspects. However, the Shift Project has positioned itself to bring the two approaches and thinking together.
- The Shift Project focuses on ‘how’ as well as ‘why’
The Shift Project operates at the junction of several points of view, including academic, commercial and government. It is interested in the ‘why’ of decarbonisation, but also on the ‘how’. It has a focus on practical solutions that can rapidly be put into operation. Similarly, it also recognises the reality of the world, and the need to persuade economic decision-makers before any changes can be made. Its primary target group is therefore those who influence political and economic decisions.
- It has developed a data portal to provide access to relevant statistics
The Shift Project recognises that one of the most important factors in decisions that drive change is evidence. It has therefore developed a data portal to provide instant access to statistics about energy and climate change around the world. This resource is freely available to anyone, although its primary target audience is those who need quantitative data to support an argument, or fact-check an assertion. These groups include journalists, non-governmental organisations, analysts, consultants and advisers.
- Much of the Shift Project’s work is through partners and partnerships
The Shift Project partners with several events and projects with a focus on climate change and/or energy transition. For example, it is a member of the We Mean Business coalition, a group of businesses working on energy transition. It also partners with several events and summits, such as the Business and Climate Summit, and was a co-initiator of the first World Efficiency show and congress. This brought together policy-makers, economic players and those trying to develop solutions to climate change and energy pressure.
- It has a number of current and previous projects, including one on Lean ICT
The Shift Project’s work on lean ICT aimed to encourage practices that limit and reduce the direct and indirect effects of digital, and maximise the effect of digital levers on energy transmission. The context was the rapid increase in digital energy consumption, and the recognition of the need for change. The report on the project was published in March 2019, and can be downloaded from the website.
- The Shift Project encourages review and challenge of its work
Many people will have first come across the work of the Shift Project in the context of a claim about the energy cost of watching Netflix for 30 minutes. A figure was given in an interview by a Shift Project Partner, and was widely reported by the media. However, it was incorrect. The Shift Project’s encouragement of transparency and review meant that this mistake was quickly uncovered and corrected. The Project subsequently published a full explanation of how it had happened, and an assessment of discrepancies with work published by other analysts.