At the end of this month, representatives from more than 190 nations will gather in Paris to try to reach a new global agreement on talking climate change.
Heads of government will make solemn promises to curb greenhouse gas emissions in an attempt to avoid the most dangerous increases in world temperature.
These commitments, though, will only be as good as the technological plans each nation has to meet their targets.
Economic growth and increased living standards typically require more energy, unless ways can be found to use existing supplies more efficiently.
As leading expert Dieter Helm argues in a new paper for Smart Energy GB: “without massive technical change, global warming cannot be cracked”.
Smart meters are an important part of the solution to climate change, according to Professor Helm.
This month, leading policy makers, environmentalists and energy experts will be gathering for our Smarter Britain, Smarter Environment event in London.
The meeting will discuss the role of smart technology in tackling climate change.
Smart meters will be offered to every home and microbusiness in Britain by 2020. In all around 53 million new gas and electricity meters will be installed.
This roll-out, unprecedented in its scale and ambition, is part of a profound set of changes to the energy market over the coming years.
There will be great focus in Paris on the way in which our energy is generated, and whether power comes from renewables, nuclear, shale, oil or coal.
But just as critical is the way in which energy is consumed by millions of homes and small businesses.
This is the vitally important “demand side” of the energy transformation that is currently underway.
Smart meters provide fast and accurate data on energy use of households.
For the first time, bill-payers are able to see exactly how much their electricity and gas use is costing in pounds and pence.
Estimated bills and inaccurate meter readings are fortunately being consigned to history.
Households are starting to engage with their energy needs much more effectively and consistently.
People can see – almost in real time – how they can save money by changing the ways they use electricity and gas.
New tariffs will, in future, also allow bill-payers to shift their most intensive energy use to times for example at the weekend or overnight when costs are lower.
But, more than this, smart meters are enabling a much wider system-wide transformation of energy transmission.
The information from millions of homes and businesses can be used to match supply and demand more efficiently at the city and national level, as part of the “smart grid”.
This is absolutely essential, if we are to rely more on renewable sources of energy.
Solar and wind energy are intermittent. The most abundant supplies are rarely produced exactly where and when they are most needed.
So better ways must be developed to store energy and distribute it over larger areas – and even between nations.
Smart technology can also help at the very local level, by supporting the decentralisation of electricity generation.
The new meters will allow households to know exactly how much energy – in pounds and pence – their solar panels or turbines are producing.
With greater electrification (of heating, appliances and transport), these challenges become even more relevant.
If millions of people come home and plug in their electric cars at 6pm, the energy systems of the future must be able to cope.
These changes are genuinely exciting.
Smart technology not only provides environmentally friendly answers, but also supports products that consumers really want.
Consumer engagement with energy via smart meters is now providing an opportunity to bring action on climate change into our homes.