Wednesday, November 04, 2009

ICT, tool for combating climate change

As lead up to the Barcelona climate change talks, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has canvassed that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) remains the single most powerful tool for the human race to avoid potential climate catastrophe, reports Charles Okoh.

The ITU is stressing the critical importance of including information and communication technologies (ICTs) as part of the solution at the Barcelona talks which will produce the draft text to be considered at the United Nation’s COP 15 Copenhagen climate change conference in December.

The ITU said in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online at the weekend that specific mention of the critical role of ICTs in the Copenhagen draft agreement would help commit policy makers around the world to seek technical solutions to reducing GHG emissions.

ITU also said that a recent study estimated that more effective use of ICTs could help reduce total global emissions by 15 per cent by 2020, representing carbon savings five times higher than the estimated emissions for the whole ICT sector in 2020.

The Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), of which ITU is a part, estimates that these reductions could deliver energy efficiency savings to global businesses of over EUR 500 billion.

Since the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in December 1997, the number of ICT users has tripled worldwide, yet ICTs find no mention in the current draft COP 15 text.

If the ingenuity of technological innovation has had the unfortunate consequence of creating unforeseen environmental damage, ITU believes the same drive to innovate - fundamental to the human spirit - can be harnessed through ICTs to reduce carbon footprint across all industry sectors, and fight the impact of climate change through accurate monitoring and rapid disaster response.

The world ICT governing body supports the view that successful strategies will require truly radical change, rather than incremental change to ‘business-as-usual’ approaches. “ICTs are the only tool powerful enough to serve as the ‘circuit-breaker’ to our current climate-hostile strategies, and to effect the true paradigm shift needed to make a difference.”

The ITU said the ICT industry is at the forefront of a ‘green revolution’, with new developments in areas such as smart grids, sustainable networks, energy-efficient data centres, teleworking, intelligent cars, smart buildings and energy-efficient workspaces.

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