In a paper published at ICT4S 2023, we argue that we should start saying no to working on systems that support the fossil fuel industry.
Ian Brooks, Aksel Biørn-Hansen, and Minna Laurell Thorslund had been working on a paper for some time and tried to get it published in a few different venues, who liked it but didn’t think it fit their core topics. We finally got it published in the ICT4S 2023 proceedings, and Ian got to present it to the conference attendees in Rennes in June.
The title of the paper is “Tech4Bad in the oil and gas industry: exploring choices for ICT professionals”, a topic that is close to our hearts. We hope that it marks the start of important conversations among IT professionals. You can watch Ian’s presentation on YouTube.
Fossil fuels contribute 86% of the anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change. These emissions must decline rapidly every year to reach Net Zero by 2050 in order to stay within internationally agreed limits for climate change. ICT is an essential enabler of the fossil fuel sector, with ICT budgets in USD billions and tens of thousands of ICT staff. When should the design and maintenance of these systems be stopped? How can ICT practitioners, including HCI professionals, decide and make their exit? Using the case study of the oil and gas industry, we explore the lack of research in this topic of ICT. We survey potential ethical, moral and pragmatic bases for decision-making. Using reports from the activity of ICT practitioners, we identify patterns for action. We propose a research agenda to better understand how ICT enables this damaging industry and how ICT practitioners think about their role and action. This agenda aims to support ICT practitioners and educators to take the supply-side action necessary to eliminate fossil fuel use, mitigate climate change and ensure ICT is used for sustainability.
I. Brooks, M. Thorslund and A. Biorn-Hansen, "Tech4Bad in the Oil and Gas Industry: Exploring Choices for ICT Professionals," in 2023 International Conference on ICT for Sustainability (ICT4S), Rennes, France, 2023 pp. 142-153. doi: 10.1109/ICT4S58814.2023.00023