Zero hour for action on climate change
It is payback time for humanity. We must now face
the consequences of a huge environmental footprint
left in the trail of enormous prosperity. Our planet’s vital
organs have been infected. The Earth has to be brought
back to health. This is no small matter.
The timeliness and scale of our actions to reverse
this process of climate change will decide our fate and
that of future generations. Copenhagen is not just another
environmental conference. It is about global security,
peace and a sustainable future.
The Climate Change Task Force that I am heading, of
which ITU is one of the supporting members, seeks to
ensure that the transformation to a low-carbon future is
profound, timely, broad-based and equitable.
World leaders vastly under-estimate the threat of
climate change and the urgency of taking dramatic action
that calls for much more severe cuts in emissions
than what governments are now proposing. Addressing
climate change will require a radical shift in our values
and lifestyles. Existing communication technologies can
play a significant role in reducing emissions today, but it
is up to us to make the right choices.
Former President of the Soviet Union
ICT will play a crucial role in any solution
Information and communication technologies (ICT)
use energy and so contribute to greenhouse-gas emissions.
Fortunately, the ICT industry is actively addressing
this issue. Next-generation networks, for example,
promise to reduce electricity consumption by as much
as 40 per cent, while digital broadcasting will reduce the
power used by transmitters by a factor of almost ten.
But it is in helping other industries to cut their
greenhouse-gas emissions that ICT truly shine. New
developments in this area include smart power grids,
energy-efficient data centres, teleworking, intelligent
transport, and smart buildings. A study by the Global
e-Sustainability Initiative estimated that the effective
use of ICT could reduce total global emissions by 15
per cent, while delivering energy savings to businesses
amounting to more than EUR 500 billion.
For the radical change that is necessary, ICT are the
only tools powerful enough to allow us to make a difference.
It is of great importance that this fundamental
fact is recognized by the United Nations Climate Change
Conference in Copenhagen. And through providing incentives
for the ICT industry to improve its performance
and invest in developing countries, we will help to narrow
the digital divide while fighting climate change — a
Hamadoun I. Touré