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Keynote Speech: ITU Workshop at 3rd IGF Meeting
Internet and Climate Change
 Hyderabad, India  04 December 2008 
Good morning Ladies and gentlemen

Welcome to this ITU workshop on the Internet and climate change.

I am pleased that speakers representing such varied constituencies have agreed to join this panel today.

This is very much in the multi-stakeholder spirit of the IGF and of WSIS.

We know that the ICT Sector produces some 2-3 per cent of total emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and that Internet use is a significant part of this figure.

We also know that this percentage will likely to increase as Internet use continues to grow as we roll out more broadband and more mobile phones, and as the world becomes more connected.

Connecting the world and enabling a fully inclusive knowledge society is, of course, central to ITU’s mission.

So while we understand that ICTs are a contributor to global warming, they clearly also bring great benefit to many and are an equally important tool in helping to reduce GHG emissions, especially in the most polluting industries such as energy generation, transportation and buildings.

Estimates of how much total world GHG emissions could be reduced through the application of ICTs vary from 15% to 40% or more by 2020.

Teleconferencing can eliminate the need for travel, and ICTs can improve the efficiencies of other industries.

The Internet can help to spread the knowledge needed to mitigate the effects of climate change more generally and provide a platform for the development of more energy efficient technologies.

International coordination in the mitigation of climate change is crucial.

ITU is spearheading international efforts in the field of ICTs and climate change and will contribute to the wider international effort.

Last week in Geneva saw the second meeting of the ITU-T Focus Group on ICTs and Climate Change.

One of the key deliverables of this Group will be internationally agreed methodologies to estimate the direct and indirect impact of ICTs on climate change.

It is only when we have such agreed methodologies that we will be able to measure the savings we can make, and attempt to agree to some target percentage reductions.

This will be an essential part of global work on meeting the commitments of the Kyoto Protocol and the agreements being negotiated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Three weeks ago, the High Level Segment (HLS) of ITU’s Council took place on the theme of climate change.

This included a message from the UN Secretary-General emphasizing the importance of ICTs in addressing climate change.

I had the honor to moderate a panel on combating climate change through ICTs, we heard of the devastating effects of climate change on small island states from the Minister from Cuba, and on developing countries from the Minister from Tanzania, and the efforts of the leading UN agencies to mitigate these effects from the heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization, UNCTAD and the World Meteorological Organization. The need for close collaboration was recognised as being more important that ever, and ITU is committed to making its own contribution.

The session was concluded with a Declaration outlining the importance of addressing the issue by the ITU Secretary-General, which you can find on our website together with a summary of the presentations.

This week the ITU Deputy Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao, is leading the ITU delegation to the UN Conference on climate change in Poznań, Poland.

ITU is organizing two side events there; one on the low-carbon economy and the other on finding ICT solutions to climate change. The Poznań conference is expected to be a major step towards the finalization of a new global agreement on climate change, which is expected to be concluded in Copenhagen in December of 2009.

In October, the first-ever ITU Global Standards Symposium (GSS) took place in Johannesburg. It brought together leaders of industry, key international standards makers, as well as Ministers, Regulators and Ambassadors.

The GSS recognized that the industry can set an example by committing to specific programmes to reduce overall GHG emissions, and this conclusion was reflected by the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly which followed the GSS in its Resolution 73 the first ITU Resolution on ICTs and climate change.

A key agreement encapsulated in the Resolution is that ITU members will work towards reductions in GHG emissions arising from the use of ICTs, in line with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The Resolution represents a major milestone for ITU, giving us a strong and clear mandate for our work.

Looking ahead to next year, we have plans underway for more symposia on ICTs and climate change, following the very successful events we held this year in Kyoto and London. One will be held in the Americas, one in Africa, and one in Asia.

As for all ITU symposia, participation is open to anyone and is free of charge. Details will be available on our website. In this way we hope to make participation easier and to expand the knowledge base on climate change.

In conclusion I would just like to say that I believe that one of the best ways to demonstrate corporate social responsibility today is to commit to climate neutrality.

I am happy to confirm that ITU has done so and we encourage others to to do so.

The Internet can be one of the major tools in the effort to combat climate change, providing we find ways for the Net to grow in an environmentally friendly manner.

I am very pleased that we have such excellent speakers with us today. I would like to thank all the speakers and organisers and hope you find the workshop rewarding.

 

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