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How the metaverse can bring us closer to a sustainable reality


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Metaverse is designed to transform the way we interact and conduct business, with the potential to impact every aspect of our business and the consumer experience.

But this won’t happen without an impact on our physical environment. There is no doubt that the trade patterns currently being established around the metaverse are problematic for our planet.

Today one Ethereum Transactions 60% more energy consumption on average than 100,000 credit card transactions, while the average Bitcoin trading consumes 14 times more energy. The average NFT transaction generates 48 kilograms (105 pounds) of CO2, which is equivalent to burning 18 liters (4.75 gallons) of diesel. Even so, the answer to the real-world climate crisis can be found in a virtual crisis.

Metaverse keep the promise of dramatically reducing carbon emissions, whether through replacing physical goods with digital goods, replacing real-world presence with virtual interactions, or twins Digitalization will help us optimize the physical world – from the planet to the individual person. The immersive nature of the super-reverse experience can also help overcome our behavioral barriers to climate action.

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Furthermore, we cannot lose sight of society’s need for sustainability, making the metaverse accessible, inclusive and equitable.

As business leaders invest, develop new customer strategies, and convert to pursue potential of metaverse, better climate and social outcomes must be at the forefront of the planning process. We must take a broader view to ensure that we bridge the gap between the costs and benefits of using the metaverse.

As adoption increases, it will become increasingly difficult to make changes to make commercial metaverse lasting. Whether this requires the intervention of regulators, investors, consumers, stakeholders or other business leaders, it is important to take time before growth follows. multiplier makes it much more difficult.

Substitute atoms for voxels

The diverse nature of the metaverse provides alternatives to resource-intensive physical goods that can drive consumer demand, thus delivering sustainable benefits.

It is possible that customers can shift their budgets for certain products to sustainable virtual options that require fewer resources to create and contribute less wastefully. This could be a notable development for high-waste industries, such as fast fashion, which contribute to overproduction and overconsumption.

One of the most promising benefits of the metaverse can be found while traveling for business. Before the pandemic, air travel accounts for 2.5% of global emissions. However, people soon learned that they could conduct virtual meetings. In the future, business meetings could be conducted in a reverse fashion, recreating some of the same benefits of face-to-face meetings while reducing the emissions of air travel for optional trips.

Perhaps the metaverse’s biggest benefit to sustainability will be its ability to leverage technology to better identify and implement carbon reduction plans. Digital twins may offer an opportunity for us to optimize the physical world by looking at it through the lens of a virtual world. One recent research revealed that a digital twin can reduce a building’s carbon footprint by 50%. Using digital twin technology, it is possible to integrate a large set of data sources to make predictions about factors such as air pollution and carbon emissions, and then identify actions to address them. address these challenges.

Overcoming psychological barriers to climate action

Interestingly, one of the biggest barriers to tackling climate change is behavioral. A 2019 study of the 2 billion social media posts that show us rapidly normalizing climate conditions – which makes it easier for us to ignore: a problem that is far away for another day. We simply have short-term memory, and it’s hard for us to understand the long-term impact of our lack of action on climate change. But this mindset is harmful to our future.

A series of experiments involving virtual reality (VR), climate and other sustainability issues have shown that immersive experiences provide better learning outcomes, more personalized impact, and interactivity. more emotions. For brands, allowing consumers to immerse themselves in a product’s sustainability journey and attributes can lead to preference, purchase, and loyalty.

To build sustainability into the metaverse, focus the new virtual world on human health

In the meantime, we shouldn’t just focus on how to build environmental sustainability into the metaverse. There is an opportunity to design the metaverse from the outset for social inclusion and equity among the many stakeholders. It will require broad and diverse intent and cooperation between businesses, regulators, investors, academia and civil society organisations.

We also need collaboration between technology companies and a diverse range of potential users to understand what they really need and want from technology. This can help make it more accessible and affordable and allow fair access to the metaverse.

For example, education is an area where these strands of technology and stakeholder collaboration can come together to create inclusion and equity, and even help bridge the gap. income. Imagine the possibilities of a university providing the power of immersive experiences and virtual collaboration to young people, regardless of their income or location.

There are many possible futures for the metaverse and we have both the agency and the solution to create a future designed for environmental sustainability in the physical world and human development in the physical world. virtual world. Now is the time for businesses to take the lead in this critical time, capitalizing on metaverse innovation while also summoning power and investment.

This will ensure that the unsustainable activities of our physical world are not simply copied or exacerbated in the virtual world.

Nicola Morini Bianzino is the CTO of EY Global.

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