Monday, 30 March 2009

ITU proposes carbon counting standards

A focus group from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has proposed a standardised methodology for reporting greenhouse gas emissions in the ICT industry. The ITU-T Focus Group on ICTs and Climate Change has developed a method for calculating two elements:

- The energy usage and carbon impact arising from ICT lifecycles

- The decrease in GHG emissions that can be achieved through 'dematerialisation', i.e. doing things electronically rather than physically.

The meeting agreed on a set of four deliverables based on best practice from its members, including terms and definitions, initially to be published as the proceedings of the Focus Group and then as ITU-T Recommendations or standards.

Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau is quoted in the press release as saying “This work has an important bearing on current and future global agreements under which countries undertake commitments to reduce their overall GHG emissions. Common approaches to calculating the impact of ICTs are vital to ensure coherent and effective solutions.”

He's absolutely right, but the danger is that a number of independent organisations come up with their own sets of standards and methodologies. For instance, only a week or so ago we reported that the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) had published standards for determining telecommunication equipment’s energy efficiency. The best thing would be if these industry organisations got together to discuss their findings. Multiple sets of rival standards are not much better than no standards at all.

Incidentally, the ITU is organising the third Symposium on ICTs and Climate Change in Quito, Ecuador, on 8-10 July 2009.

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