Wednesday, July 16, 2008

ITU sets up group on impact of ICT, climate change

Global telecommunications regulator, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), is worried over the increasing issues of climate change by setting up a new group within the body to focus on the impact of climate change and how Information and Communications Technology (ICT) could be deployed to ameliorate the situation.

Chief, Media Relations and Public Information at ITU, Mr. Sanjay Acharya said in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online at the weekend that the new group was in response to industry call for ITU to take a stand on the worrisome issue of climate change and to work on standardizing related impact of ICT on climate change.

He also said that the new group would focus in particular on the reduction of ICT emissions and how ICTs could assist in cutting emissions in other industry sectors such as energy, transportation and buildings.

According to him, since the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, in December 1997, the number of ICT users has tripled worldwide.

“It is estimated that the ICT sector produces between two to three per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. But ICTs are also seen as a part of the solution to the climate change challenge,” he said.

ICTs, Acharya said, could help cut global emissions by between 15 to 40 per cent, depending on the methodology used to make these estimates.

Equally, he said that two recently organised ITU symposia on ICTs and climate change in Kyoto in April and in London in June this year specifically drew attention to the wide variation in these estimates.

A key objective of the focus group will be to develop internationally agreed methodologies to describe and estimate the impact of ICTs on climate change, both directly and through their application in other industry sectors.

“The importance of ICT standardization to deal with this global issue was acknowledged following the very successful Kyoto and London symposia, and a study by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) - a group comprised of key technology companies and organizations, including ITU,” he said.

As said by him, the reports of the two symposia were submitted to the just concluded G8 Summit held in Hokkaido, Japan, between July 7 and 9, 2008.

Participants in the symposia, he further said, represented ICT companies from around the world as well as the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, and called on ITU to increase its activities in ICTs and climate change.

In his message to the London symposium, Mr. Ki-moon commended ITU for working with partners inside and outside the UN family to give high priority to actions in this field.

“The information and communication technology sector has much to offer in creating a cleaner, greener world. But it must also apply international standards in reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

ITU has moved quickly to create the new focus group on ICTs and Climate Change, with an ambitious work plan to conclude by April 2009.

Also commenting on the group, the ITU Secretary-General, Dr. Hamadoun I. TourĂ© said he was “very appreciative of the drive that has come from the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector on this topic, paving the way for the establishment of the Focus Group”.

In addition, Dr Touré underlined the fact that climate change is one of the major issues of this time and the key role that ITU is playing in addressing the issue has been acknowledged by the UN Secretary-General.

“ICTs are a contributor to global warming, but more importantly they are the key to monitoring and mitigating its effects,” he said.

Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, Mr. Malcolm Johnson, issued a call to arms for the world’s ICT companies and others following the announcement of the Focus Group.

“We have heard from industry and from the UN Secretary-General that ITU must tackle this issue of global importance. I encourage all interested parties to participate.

This group is open to all and I encourage contributions from the ICT sector as well as other industry sectors, research institutes, and any other specialists in this field,” he said.

The group is billed to start work immediately using electronic means, but plans are up for physical meeting of the group for the first time at ITU headquarters in Geneva on September 1 through 3, 2008 under the chairmanship of David Faulkner of British Telecom (BT).

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