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 Saturday, June 21, 2008

The second ITU symposium on ICTs and climate change closed June 18 with a call for ITU to increase its activities in three areas: reducing energy consumption of ICT equipment; promoting efficiencies to be gained through the use of ICTs in other sectors; encouraging behaviour change – both in business and consumers.

"We are here because we are seeking to find the best ways to make ICTs a critical element in addressing climate change, and to identify the work that must be carried out in standards development, environmental monitoring, climate change mitigation and adaptation," said Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU's Telecommunication Standardisation Bureau.

In a message to the symposium, UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban 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," he said.

Since the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, in December 1997, the number of ICT users has tripled worldwide. The ICT Sector produces between two to three per cent of the total emissions of greenhouse gases, but if applied to reducing emissions in other industry sectors such as energy, transportation and buildings, could reduce global emissions by between 15 to 40 per cent depending on the methodology used to make these estimates.

The first ITU symposium on ICTs and climate change, held in Kyoto April 15-16, and co-organised by MIC Japan, drew attention to the wide variation in estimates on the impact of the fast paced ICT evolution on the global climate and recommended that ITU standardise methodologies for estimating the impact of ICTs on climate change both directly and indirectly. This was confirmed in London.

The chairmen’s reports of the two symposia will now be forwarded to the G8 Summit, to be held at Lake Toya, Hokkaido Prefecture in July 2008, and to other relevant meetings.

“We must remind ourselves that this is only a first step on the long road to finding and implementing global solutions to the challenge of climate change through the use of ICTs. What is important is not so much what we say this week, but how we act and follow up on the momentum we have created” said Johnson.

Speaker Luis Neves, chairman of the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), a group comprised of key technology companies and organizations (including ITU) said that communications technology is a part of the climate change solution. A GeSI study on facilitating the low carbon economy in the information age has been published.

The London symposium was chaired by Mr. Tom Walker, Director, Europe and international Business Relations, Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), UK.

During the opening session BT chairman Sir Michael Rake accepted a Queen's Award for Enterprise - recognizing the company’s efforts in the field of sustainable development. The award - also received by BT in 2003 and which runs for five years - was presented by the Lord Mayor of the City of London Alderman David Lewis on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.

The ITU is expected to conduct most of its work using remote collaboration tools. It may also undertake a gap analysis of work being carried out among other standardization development organizations so as to better focus its activities. In the closing session Johnson strongly encouraged all the attendees, as well others, to participate in this work.

Presentations from Kyoto and London can be viewed here.

See also climate change news feed.