January 9, 2023
For two weeks in November, much of the world’s attention was focused on Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, which hosted COP27, a meeting of the 198 countries that have signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. COP27 is more than a UN meeting — it’s a broader gathering of government officials, non-governmnet organizations (NGOs), activists, company leaders, and academics who collaborate and discuss ways to tackle this global problem.
Given the increasing role of technology in driving down emissions, capturing and storing carbon, and leveraging green materials, the role that Ansys can play in this effort is becoming increasingly important. To assess the potential extent of our role, we have been casting a wide net to collect what our customers are doing under the banner of sustainability. We recognize that the contribution of engineering, and by extension simulation, to this massive global effort is growing. So, when Microsoft, one of our strategic partners, invited us to attend COP27, we were grateful for the opportunity.
We learned a lot at COP27. Here we share a few observations of major importance that we took away from the meeting.
A common theme at COP27 was the massive shift of capital needed to fund the energy transition required to fight climate change. Ministers, bankers, and technology leaders noted that the movement of funds and interest has been truly remarkable. In the U.S., major investment and build-out opportunities will be dramatically increasing thanks to the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act. More broadly, governments worldwide are increasingly looking to invest alongside private capital to help close the “green premium” gap that exists in moving to renewable energy. Their participation is also key in lowering the risk for companies that are taking the lead in deploying new technologies.
Where is the money going?
Speaker after speaker at COP27 drilled home the point that the most important technology-related action we can take now is to scale up what we already have. This doesn’t mean that R&D into new energy or carbon capture technologies should stop, but we should not mistake these future technologies as magical solutions that will absolve us of doing what we can right now with existing technologies. Luckily, Ansys has experience helping our customers with scaling up operations.
Take, for instance, another kind of global emergency that we recently experienced: the COVID-19 pandemic. Scaling up vaccine production from beaker to bioreactor is critical for inoculating global populations against disease. In most instances, vaccine development begins in a small beaker on a lab bench and must be rapidly scaled up — initially to meet the requirements of clinical trials and subsequently, when approved, to immunize billions of people. Scaling up is a high stakes process: Improperly designed or operated bioreactors can cause months-long delays and cost millions of dollars in wasted raw materials. Engineers use field-tested Ansys computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations to scale up bioreactors for vaccine production and other applications.
Examples of existing sustainability technologies that could benefit from similar production and cost scaling include:
“Greenwashing involves making an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company's products are environmentally friendly or have a greater positive environmental impact than they actually do,” according to Investopedia.
Concern about avoiding greenwashing was evident at COP27 in an undercurrent of discussion that can be summarized as “talk is cheap, but this all requires action to back it up." At Ansys, we're committed to taking real, intentional action to further our impact. To that end, we're going to focus on the following as distinct next steps:
Clearly, we don’t have all the answers, and this is a constantly evolving field. But we are energized by our first participation in COP27, and we hope that it represents a key moment in the history of Ansys.