The International Telecommunication Union, the UN agency for information and communication technology issues, is to press for the greater recognition of ICT as a cross-sectoral tool to combat climate change in the upcoming Copenhagen Agreement. The announcement was made during the recent inaugural Virtual International Symposium on ICTs and Climate Change, in which over 500 people from 50 countries participated.
The ITU has already been very active in negotiations to promote the role that ICT can play, participating in meetings in Bangkok and Barcelona. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon previously underlined the organisation’s role; "ITU is one of the very important stakeholders in the area of climate change," he said.
It’s good to hear that a UN organisation is actively promoting the use of ICT to help reduce emissions and, hopefully, making the point at the negotiating table. I’ve noticed a worrying trend recently for ICT to be seen more as a problem than part of the solution. We clearly need to make IT a lot more efficient, and there’s plenty of scope to do that, but, as has been said many times, ICT can prevent a lot more emissions than it creates.
The ITU launched a major initiative in 2008 to better understand the relationship between ICTs and climate change. The organisation’s Telecommunication Standardisation Sector (ITU-T) has recently developed a methodology for calculating the impact of ICTs on GHG emissions over their entire life cycle and is converting the methodology into a formal global standard. ITU’s Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) is focusing on monitoring and sensing systems for better climate information. There was a recent joint seminar with the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) on the use of radio spectrum for meteorology, aimed at weather, water and climate monitoring and prediction.
There’s more about what the organisation is doing to promote green ICT on its web site: http://www.itu.int/themes/climate/