COP 28

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The Impact of Digital Economy & New Technologies on Environment Protection

Prof Nathalie Martial-Braz

Université Paris Cité Full Professor of Private Law, Project Acting lead, SUAD

Prof Aude-Solveig Epstein

Université Paris Nanterre Visiting Assistant Professor Legal Studies, NYU Abu Dhabi

When: November 2023
Exact date and location will be announced closer to the event.

New technologies and digital technology – and it is still necessary to determine what these adjectives cover beyond the marketing terms that may be used – Internet, artificial intelligence, blockchain, digitisation of the economy, etc. – benefit from a “clean”, “neutral” or even “green” image, the virtues of which could be used to combat climate change. Doesn’t the energy transition promoted in the region, and particularly in the United Arab Emirates, postulate a replacement of the economy based on “all oil” by a decarbonised digital economy that is likely to contribute to the respect of the States’ climate commitments such as those made during the various COPs? However, such an assumption necessarily deserves to be questioned.

What environmental gains are possible through the use of new technologies in general and digital technology in particular? What are the side effects that can be feared, such as the establishment of new monopolies or, on the contrary, the development of a new world economic order built around new “energy” communities? Can the postulate be validly supported given that the digital economy, as we know it today, is very energy-intensive and that, consequently, its capacity to bring about environmental gains is directly linked to the “nature” of the energy used to feed it? Do we have the levers to make digital technology virtuous?

Furthermore, if we accept the postulate that digital technology, in the broadest sense of the term, can be used to help protect the environment, what conditions are required? What is the role that the law should play to enable the implementation of these beneficial effects, supposed or expected, of digital technology on the climate transition? Can we imagine restrictive measures for digital players to force them to be sober by design?

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