How information and communication technologies
(ICT) can combat climate change — and efforts to
reduce the carbon footprint of ICT themselves — are
among the topics of work by Study Group 5 of ITU’s
Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU–T).
On the agenda of its meeting on 25–29 May 2009
was a practical proposal that would help reduce the
amount of energy needed to charge mobile phones
— and cut the clutter of unnecessary equipment.
The trade body for the mobile phone industry, the
GSM Association (GSMA), had asked for ITU’s support
in promoting a “universal charging solution” for
handsets, based on Micro-USB as the common universal
charging interface. The request was positively
received and the study group will work on adopting
the solution as an ITU–T Recommendation.
The proposal is that an energy-efficient charger
should be developed that is compatible with any type
of mobile phone. GSMA estimates that this would
result in a 50-per-cent cut in the energy consumed
when chargers are left on standby. It also means that
people will not have to buy another charger when
they buy a new handset. This would eliminate the
need to manufacture 51 000 tonnes of duplicate
chargers each year: equal to a reduction of 13.6 million
tonnes in greenhouse-gas emissions.
There will also be a big boost to convenience,
says GSMA. Consumers will be able to keep using
the same charger for handsets produced in future,
as well as power up their mobile phones wherever a
universal charger is available. The 17 leading makers
and operators that launched the project in February
2009 agreed that, by the start of 2012, most of their
new handsets will be compatible with the universal
charger, which they expect to see for sale worldwide.
Study Group 5 was given a new mandate in
April 2009 and the title “Environment and Climate
Change”. One of its main tasks is to follow up activities
of the Focus Group on ICT and Climate Change,
which ended its work in March 2009 (see ITU News
of April 2009).
The questions that will be considered by Study
Group 5 include coordination and planning of standardization
related to ICT and climate change; collecting
data on energy efficiency over the lifecycle of
ICT equipment, and the recycling of ICT equipment
and facilities. In addition, it remains the lead Study
Group on environmental aspects of electromagnetic