“Keep 1.5 Alive” The 2015 Paris Agreement pledge that has become the battle cry of COP26, rings in our ears as leaders look at ways that countries and corporations can limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius to mitigate the devastating effects of climate change. New analysis by the Climate Action Tracker calculates that the world is heading for 2.4C of warming and with that in mind the need to adapt and embrace technologies that tackle and reduce the impact of climate change, is ever more pressing. The technology sector is well-placed to embrace data initiatives in support of a more sustainable future. Sustainable software and green data are emerging disciplines at the intersection of science, technology and climate science, which when considered as part of a business’ wider Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) policy can help businesses play their part in the Global Development Goals. The concept of sustainability is built around three pillars: ecological, economical, and social sustainability and there are a number of things to consider across the whole software lifecycle, from planning and programming, distribution and installation, usage, and disposal. Considering the first of these, the ecological impact of software, we can begin to see how sustainable software engineering can help bring positive change. The ecological impact of software Considering how to minimise resource and energy consumption are key. As pointed out by the Harvard Business Review, on its own, software doesn’t consume energy. The problem lies within the way software is developed, used and stored. Addressing hardware requirements Software runs on hardware, and as more software is developed, the reliance on hardware increases. In an ideal world, software requires as little hardware capacity as possible, and is compatible with power save settings and facilitates the ability of individual components to make optimum use of working memory. Longevity is also key, with software updates often rendering it impossible on older hardware. Improving software development Asking what is the smallest possible environmental footprint that could be used to make an application to guide the first stages of the software development cycle, should be fundamental. Allowing Software Engineers the flexibility of trade-off software performance with environmental impact is key. Using AI as an example, consider that training a single neural network model can emit as much carbon as five cars in their lifetimes, and the exponential increase in computational power required to run large AI training models, balancing performance against ecological impact might be a worthwhile consideration. Data Storage Not only might software development be a focus for businesses looking to improve their carbon footprint but also a consideration of data storage. Data centres consume about 2% of global electricity today; by 2030, they could consume as much as 8%. With modern applications often deployed over the cloud, factoring in software deployment methods and storage requirements might help turn curb this trend. How Software Engineers can help make software accountable The principles of Sustainable Software Engineering are a core set of competencies needed to define, build, and run sustainable software applications and companies have a duty to make software an integral part of their sustainability efforts. By judging data and software’s performance on its energy efficiency and by including green practices and targets in CIO performance reviews, business can help Keep 1.5 Alive. If you have competencies in sustainable software development or a business looking to incorporate green data initiatives, take a look at our latest Software Engineer jobs.