As many new opportunities as digitalization offers, the industry that drives it is increasingly finding itself in a conflict of objectives, which traditional sectors are also caught in: how can one succeed in reconciling a growing demand for electricity or energy with a lower burden on the climate and environment ?

Is that possible?

A concrete example of what is at stake are the now massive so-called artificial neural networks, whose calculations simply consume a lot of electricity.

Another example are cryptocurrencies and here in particular the Bitcoin network, which also requires a lot of energy.

At the DLD digital conference in Munich, Sandrine Dixson-Declève, one of the two presidents of the “Club of Rome”, once again described what is at stake for the world, how climate change is already affecting it – and what, according to her studies, is at risk if humanity does not significantly curb global warming: a multifaceted catastrophe.

What is needed is nothing less than a very fundamental change in how countries work together, how energy-intensive they do business, how many resources they use, and this also applies to every person personally.

She expressed herself in the tradition of the organization - the "Club of Rome" became known above all for its report "Limits to Growth", published in 1972, in which its members critically dealt with the prevailing way of life and the economy.

Less emissions through quantum computing?

In the meantime, politicians and entrepreneurs around the world have launched programs to better protect the environment and climate.

The digital economy is also concerned with this, as was evident in many places at the DLD: The conference itself has changed over the years and is now increasingly focusing on sustainability.

In recent years, for example, social pioneer Jeremy Rifkin has been a guest.

This year, for example, the President of the German Automobile Association VDA, Hildegard Müller, discussed at a panel with computer scientists how quantum computing can possibly be used to reduce CO2 consumption.

The New York molecular biologist Ellen Jorgensen moderated a discussion on how much the insurers can ensure that their policies are environmentally friendly through appropriate requirements.

And it was also about aviation - it is generally considered the dirtiest means of transport, so the DLD question "Can the sky go green?" seemed particularly ambitious and unrealistic.

But there are already a number of options, as Christina Foerster demonstrates.

The manager has been on the Executive Board of the Lufthansa Group since January 1, 2020, where she is responsible for the areas of customers, IT and corporate responsibility as Chief Customer Officer.

“Green” is possible, but not for free, Foerster makes that clear.

Ultimately, the customers have to pay.

And the airline offers them a number of options for this.

The idea: skim off different willingness to pay.

In this way, Lufthansa customers can offset their CO2 emissions at different speeds – and thus at very different costs.

Example: A transatlantic flight between Frankfurt and New York.

For this, the airline uses 387 kilograms of carbon dioxide per passenger.

The price-sensitive can select a portfolio of ten climate projects via the Lufthansa service Compensaid.

That means: The 387 kilograms are compensated for over a period of ten years.

Cost: 7.75 euros.

If you want more and choose immediate compensation, you pay 247.96 euros.

For this purpose, Lufthansa uses SAF, “sustainable aviation fuel”.

According to LH, this is the first viable alternative to fossil aviation fuel: “It is key to sustainable aviation because it can be used to power aircraft without significant changes to existing infrastructure.” Compared to fossil fuels, SAF aims to reduce carbon emissions reduced by up to 80 percent.

Calm the flying conscience

However: SAF is expensive.

In the case of a one-way flight to New York, that is 247.96 euros.

How exactly does the equalization work?

"We calculate your fuel consumption with transparent calculations for all your flights and bring the corresponding amount of SAF into flight operations," explains the group.

An economy ticket is therefore about 20 percent more expensive.

Lufthansa board member Foerster hopes that significantly more customers will opt for it in the future.

In a poll in the DLD hall (who would pay the surcharge?), at least a number of hands were raised.

If you don't want to spend that much money, the airline offers many options in between.

100 different partial amounts between 7.75 euros (project-based compensation over ten years) and 247.96 euros (immediate compensation with SAF) can be selected via the Compensaid service - depending on how far you want to calm your bad flying conscience.