Keynote Speech: ITU Workshop at 3rd IGF Meeting
Internet and Climate Change
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
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
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
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
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
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
I am happy to confirm that ITU has done so and we encourage others to to do
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
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