Microsoft Pushes Green Mapping Amid Copenhagen Talks


Tech giant Microsoft has joined the likes of Cisco and Intel, who are keen to bask in the green glow from the summit

Microsoft has joined the ranks of IT companies showing off their green credentials at the Copenhagen climate talks with the launch of its Environmental Atlas of Europe project.

The tool, announced this week, is essentially an online portal built on top of the software giant’s Bing Map service and allows users to read specific stories about how climate change is impacting countries across Europe. A joint project with the European Environment Agency (EEA), the Atlas will initially only cover nine countries – Denmark, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Italy, Lapland, Netherlands, Poland and Russia – Microsoft said in a statement.

“As the world’s leading software company, we believe technology will play a vital role against tough issues facing the world like climate change,” said Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist at Microsoft. “With the help of our Bing Maps visualisation technology, Atlas enables people to connect to the issue by visualising the changes occurring to our world today and provides another tangible example of how technology can contribute.”

The Atlas is the latest project in Microsoft’s partnership with the EEA which also includes the Eye on Earth portal that reports on air and water quality across Europe. “The Eye on Earth platform has already made environmental information more accessible, allowing people to grasp what is happening to the environment in their neighborhoods and across Europe,” said Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of EEA. “Atlas now takes this one step further by allowing people to share their stories of climate change’s impacts and their responses, broadening understanding and inspiring others to act.”

Microsoft is not the only tech company which is basking in the green-glow from Copenhagen talks. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark announced plans to use technology from communications company Cisco for delegates to talk with people outside Copenhagen during the conference.

However, some UK green IT experts have expressed concern that the important role technology has to play in combating climate change will not be given enough attention at the climate talks. “Without an awareness of the role of IT, plans discussed in Copenhagen run the risk of ignoring the actual methods we need to adopt to reduce emissions, said Catalina McGregor, founder of the UK government’s Green ICT delivery unit at the Green IT Expo earlier this year. “We need IT on the COP15 agenda,” she said. “The funding door may close if it is not there.”

Other IT experts have also called for more focus on technology at the talks. Rob Conway, chief executive and member of the board, for mobile industry group the GSMA, has also called for the importance of technology to be noted in meeting any goals thrashed out in Copenhagen.

Last week, Intel took time from the Copenhagen summit  to talk to eWEEK Europe UK about the role that IT equipment can play in reducing CO2 emissions.

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