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IBM, Apple and Accenture join MIT cross-industry climate change-tackling consortium

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s cross-industry push to tackle climate change has attracted some big names from the world of tech, including Apple, IBM, Accenture and Verizon

Apple and IBM are among the handful of IT firms to emerge as inaugural members of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) climate change-tackling consortium.

The companies have joined the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium (MCSC), a cross-industry initiative geared towards accelerating the development pace of climate change-tackling technologies and innovations.

Featuring input from students, faculty members and researchers from across MIT, the MCSC said it has sought to recruit companies to join the initiative from a wide range of industries – spanning aviation, agriculture, technology chemical product and textiles – to aid its efforts to arrest the onset of climate change across the world.

The consortium will see Apple and IBM working alongside other tech-focused firms including aerospace company Boeing, professional IT services provider Accenture and telco giant Verizon, to deliver on its goals.

A total of 13 companies are joining the consortium at launch, including representatives from the world of fashion retail, construction, manufacturing and food production, including PepsiCo.

“The inaugural members of the MCSC are companies with intricate supply chains that are among the best positioned to help lead the mission to solve the climate crisis,” said MIT in a statement.

“The inaugural member companies of the MCSC recognise the responsibility industry has in the rapid deployment of social and technology solutions. They represent the heart of global industry and have made a commitment to not only work with MIT but with one another, to tackle the climate challenge with the urgency required to realise their goals.”

The MCSC said the consortium’s aim is to “foster” an environment of collaboration between these firms, so that they combine their resources to bring to market products and services that will help the fight against climate change.

The organisation said it hopes the firms will also work together to “drive down costs, lower barriers to adoption of best-available technology and processes, speed retirement of carbon-intensive power generating and materials-producing equipment” within their respective industries.

“If we hope to decarbonise the economy, we must work with the companies that make the economy run,” said MIT president L Rafael Reif. “Drawing its members from a broad range of industries, the MCSC will convene an alliance of influential corporations motivated to work with MIT, and with each other, to pilot and deploy the solutions necessary to reach their own ambitious decarbonisation commitments.”

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The cross-industry element of the consortium will play a vital role in helping the MCSC to achieve its goals, while also supporting MIT to deliver on its pre-existing climate change-mitigating initiatives.

Reif added: “By sharing solutions across companies and sectors, the consortium has the potential to vastly accelerate the implementation of large-scale, real-world solutions to help meet the global climate emergency.”

In a blog post confirming its involvement in the initiative, IBM Research Future of Climate Strategy leads Solomon Assefa and Marina Rakhlin revealed further details of the benefits it hopes its involvement in the MCSC will bring.

The company said it plans to draw on its experience from operating its hybrid cloud platform to help “proactively address the challenge that datacentre energy consumption is expected to grow to more than 10%  of the world’s technology by 2030”.

IBM Research is also working on technologies designed to improve the energy efficiency and resource utilisation of IT infrastructures by enabling the “coordinated placement of containers”, the blog post said.

By drawing on its own portfolio of artificial intelligence, quantum computing and hybrid cloud tools, the company said it is also committed to doing its bit to accelerate the development of carbon capture technologies.

“On average, it takes at least 10 years to discover a new material and bring it to market, but we simply can’t wait a decade for new materials for carbon capture to tackle the climate crisis,” said the IBM Research blog post.

“Thankfully, we can now combine artificial intelligence, quantum computing and hybrid cloud to accelerate discovery. By applying deep search, AI- and quantum- enriched simulation, generative models and cloud-based, AI-driven autonomous labs, we are super-charging the scientific method to accelerate the discovery of new materials, including complex polymers and materials for carbon CO2 capture and separation.”

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