The advancing climate crisis and loss of biodiversity give outstanding importance to a change toward ecological sustainability at all levels. Digital technologies offer outstanding potential for increasing ecological sustainability in the German economy. However, unless sustainability and digitization are strategically considered together at the macro level by policy makers and at the micro level by companies, they can simultaneously generate negative externalities that could outweigh their positive environmental effects. So, what is needed is an evidence base for companies on how they can use digital technologies to increase environmental sustainability, both in their production and in their products. Building on this, there is a need for evidence-based options for setting a political course so that digital technologies are as effective as possible in strengthening ecological sustainability in the German economy.
The study, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK), has two goals: It aims to contribute to greater understanding of the sustainability and market potential in the context of the use of digital technologies and to identify options for the promotion and economic application of key digital technologies – from a sustainability perspective and broken down by economic sector. As part of a subcontract from the main client acatech, project participants from the Wuppertal Institute engaged in a qualitative analysis of the sustainability potentials of the most important digital technologies and evaluated them quantitatively using secondary data.