Can Tech Stop Climate Change? We Asked An Expert.

If you keep up with the news, you’ve seen a lot about climate change in the past few weeks. World leaders reached a landmark deal on Saturday to curb the threat of global warming, and some of the world’s most powerful entrepreneurs have joined the Breakthrough Energy Coalition to help.

While governments naturally focus on policy, the coalition emphasizes technology. “Attempts to solve global problems frequently fail because they require collective action from governments, universities, and the private sector,” LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, a member of the group, said on the coalition’s website.

“Producing large-scale, reliable, affordable, and carbon-free energy is one of these key global problems,” he continued. “The swords that cut this Gordian Knot: breakthrough technologies built and deployed by entrepreneurial companies with global scope.”

But what does that mean, exactly? No, not the part about a “Gordian knot.” What is technology’s role in establishing a cleaner planet? To understand a bit more about tech’s relationship with global warming, The Huffington Post spoke with Edward A. Parson. He’s the faculty co-director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the University of California, Los Angeles, and has consulted for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

If anyone can answer our questions, it’s this guy.

First: How important is technology in the fight against climate change?

The most basic question was, of course, the easiest to answer. Tech — more specifically, energy technology — is fundamental to combatting global warming.

“It’s absolutely decisive,” Parson said. “You can understand climate change as a mostly technical problem to which there is a mostly technical solution.”

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