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UN-backed initiative combats climate change with technology

Experts on ICTs and climate change to meet in Kyoto and London

Geneva, 1 April 2008 — As part of a major initiative to combat climate warming and to examine the relationship between ICTs and climate change, ITU is organizing two global symposia in the first half of 2008. These are aimed at reaching a better understanding of the relationship between information and communication technologies (ICT) and climate change.

The International Symposia on ICTs and Climate Change, featuring high-level experts drawn from industry, government and academia as well as key writers on the topic, will seek to provide guidance to the global ICT sector on how to monitor, mitigate and adapt to climate change. The meetings will take place April 15−16 in Kyoto, Japan, co-organized and hosted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC); and 17−18 June 2008 in London, supported and hosted by BT.

Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General, said, "Unequivocal and authoritative scientific evidence, recent climate events and an increased public awareness have elevated climate change to the highest rungs of the political agenda — globally, regionally and at national levels. Climate change is a concern for all of humanity and requires efforts on the part of all sectors of society, including the ICT sector. ITU is committed to achieving climate neutrality and to working with our membership to promote the use of ICTs as an effective tool to combat climate change."

It is estimated that ICTs contribute around 2-2.51 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. These percentages are likely to grow as ICTs become more widely available. At the same time ICTs can be a major linchpin in the effort to combat climate change. ICTs have the potential to serve as a potent, cross-cutting tool to limit and ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions across economic and social sectors, in particular by the introduction and development of more energy efficient devices, applications and networks, as well as their environmentally sound disposal. ICT can therefore be a key enabler to a low carbon economy while also promoting growth.

Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s standardization arm, said, "The ITU membership has given a very positive response to this initiative. Our governments, service providers and manufacturers have a strong will to address this issue in ITU, and have asked us to lead the industry's efforts to combat climate change. We have already seen in ITU a phenomenal level of effort put into finding ways to reduce power consumption in ICT networks and devices, as well as looking at ways that ICTs can help other industries contribute to this global challenge."

In December 2007, ITU representatives made a statement at the UN Conference on Climate Change in Bali, Indonesia, illustrating how ICTs are both a cause and a potential cure for climate change. UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon previously underlined ITU’s role in meeting one of the most important challenges facing mankind. "ITU is one of the very important stakeholders in the area of climate change," he said.

Other recent ITU activities related to climate change include a workshop — The Fully Networked Car — which examined how ICTs in vehicles can help mitigate and monitor climate change, and a series of tutorials on energy saving where experts agreed to work towards a proposed percentage reduction of power consumption in access technologies. The aim is for the agreed figure to form part of a Resolution from the upcoming World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-08) in Johannesburg, South Africa next October. Reduction of power consumption should and can be done without the degradation of services according to experts. The Fully Networked Car will take place again in 2009, during the Geneva International Motor Show, also with a strong emphasis on climate change issues.

The Symposia on ICTs and Climate Change will be available as a webinar so that remote participants can see and hear presentations from wherever they are in the world. Provision will also be made for remote participants to submit comments and questions. For details please see webpage here.

Information on all ITU activities related to climate change can be found here.

For further information, please contact:

Sanjay Acharya
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information

Tel: +41 22 730 5046
Mobile: +41 79 249 4861
Toby Johnson
Communications Officer,

ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau
Tel: +41 22 730 5877
Mobile: +41 79 249 4868


1 The impact of ICT on global emissions, a report prepared by McKinsey for the UN Environment Group, 24 October 2007.

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Updated : 2008-04-02