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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Broadband’ll increase global warming – Experts


As the clamour for the deployment of Broadband continues at the on-going United Nation (UN) organized Climate Change Conference 2009 (COP15), being hosted by the Danish government in Denmark, experts have said that the diffusion of internet based on this model will continue to increase the stake of total emissions of GreenHouse Gas (GHG).

Currently, the GHG emissions in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector is estimated to be between 2 and 3 per cent directly produced emissions.

Just as experts in another school of thought argued that the cuts in greenhouse gases offered at the 192-nation climate conference are anticipated to be very low, thus not clearly enough to assure the world of possible ‘head off’ of dangerous global warming.

According to experts at the recently concluded fourth annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, Broadband deployment and the increasingly intense use of the Internet will contribute to the rise in GHG emissions.

The experts assembled under the auspices of the Dynamic Coalition on Internet and Climate Change (DCICC) were hosted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as one of its initiative on curtailing climate change menace.

The experts drawn from over the 31 DCICC-member organizations believe that the current estimated emissions produced directly will increase as ICTs and the Internet continue to raise. “Broadband deployment and the increasingly intense use of the Internet will contribute to the rise in GHG emissions. Although ICTs contribute to global warming, they can also help in reducing the GHG emissions of other sectors,” some of the contributors at the special session organized by ITU said.

Though they were excited that by replacing the need for travel and by improving transport efficiency, noting that ICTs will help to reduce the carbon footprint of individuals and companies.

Participants at this session examined what the ICT industry could do to reduce its own carbon footprint and extend the hand of fellowship to other sectors of the economy globally.

DCICC, arising from its second public meeting, last week, noted that the Internet has undergone explosive growth in recent years and plays a critical role in all phases of economic and social.

Increased access to ICT, they noted, is a global success story, as there are more than 4.6 billion subscriptions to mobile phones and 1.5 billion Internet users.

They hinted that due to this growth, ICTs currently contribute 2-3 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and this figure is expected to rise, stressing that in response, the Internet community is determined to mitigate its own carbon footprint through new energy-efficient data centers, servers, applications and networks and through the increased use of renewable energy supplies to power the Internet infrastructure.

“A future high-bandwidth, lower-carbon society potentially offers a platform for economic, social and cultural development that is sustainable,” the final statement from the second meeting indicated.

They estimated that ICTs could reduce emissions in other sectors by at least 15 per cent, thereby making them a significant enabling technology to combat climate change.

The Internet, they insisted could play a key role to enable the use of ICTs in the reduction of GHG emissions in other sectors.

According to them, the Internet facilitates the use of ICTs to reduce GHG emissions
in other sectors through videoconferencing, tele-working, e- commerce, and intelligent transport systems.

“It is vital to set priority areas for action in using ICTs in other sectors; these may include smart buildings, smart electric grids, dematerialization and sustainable procurement. Governments, the private sector, and the user community, each have their role to play in deploying ICTs in other sectors to maximum effect and to promote sustainable development,” part of the statement read.

For them, it is essential that policymakers, stakeholders and governance of the Internet at all levels, national, regional and international; take full account of the need for sustainable growth of the Internet.

“Every effort must be made so that the Internet evolves in a manner that respects the need to control its carbon footprint. In particular, the IGF process, including at the regional level, should highlight to a much greater extent the importance of including climate change as a key factor in any and all policies and frameworks that will shape the future growth of the Internet,” part of the statement read.

They emphasized that given the special characteristics and needs of developing countries, urgent action must be taken to assist them to adapt to climate change.
Pointing out that most developing countries are only minor contributors to GHG emissions, but then they are often victims of extreme weather events and other negative impacts of climate change, such as rising oceans, changes in rainfall, species migration, harm to farmers, degradation of the rainforest, melting of glaciers, and human displacement.

For these countries, the officer in charge of ITU-DCICC secretariat, Mr. Arthur Levin, informed that the Internet and ICTs could serve as a critical enabling tool to mitigate climate change and adapt to it, e.g. through climate monitoring and data collection, which could assist agriculture and other sectors, and in the predicting natural disasters and ensuring a rapid response when disasters strike.

Corporate commitments by Internet companies, he said is need to reduce their energy consumption and GHG emissions.

Increased use of renewable energy supplies and green purchasing policies, he said, are essential parts of the solution, maintaining that global standards, which include agreed methodologies to measure the impact of ICTs on climate change, could promote more energy efficient ICT products and services to drive the growth of the Internet.

“Current efforts to develop, adopt and use such standards are encouraged,” DCICC solicited, reiterating that in order to bridge the digital divide and bring the benefits of the Internet to all citizens is fundamental to tackling climate change.

Providing equitable and affordable access to broadband connectivity to schools, rural communities, and health facilities, are vital to economic development and to making effective use of ICTs to combat climate change.

For the experts at the DCICC meeting, e-waste from the Internet and ICTs is a growth challenge, arguing that efforts must be made to dispose Internet access devices such as mobile phones, and computers in addition to servers in an environmentally-friendly manner, so as to reduce and avoid the use of toxic materials and promotion of the use of designs and materials that facilitate recycling.

“The reuse of ICTs also needs to be encouraged as well as efforts to extend their useful life through improved design,” the communiqué stated.

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