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UNFCCC Climate Change Talks
 Barcelona, Spain  5 November 2009 
Good evening.

My name is Malcolm Johnson, I am an elected official in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the lead UN agency for Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

First of all on behalf of ITU, the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), I would like to welcome you and thank you all for coming.

Let me start by saying a few words on ITU.

  • coordinates the shared global use of the radio spectrum,
  • promotes international coordination on use of satellite orbits
  • assists developing countries to improve their ICT infrastructure
  • assigns numbers for use in the telecommunications networks
  • develops global ICT standards that foster seamless interconnection and interoperability of a vast range of ICT communications systems and addresses the challenges of our times, such as cybersecurity and mitigating climate change.
Many predict that by 2050 global greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by some 80%, so we can no longer talk in terms of incremental reductions of 5-10%.

There is also a growing understanding that there is only one way that this can be achieved: by shifting from a high carbon physical infrastructure to a low carbon virtual infrastructure based on the evolving information society and smart technology – what we call ICTs.

ICTs provide for virtual meetings, smart grids, e-governance, e-health, intelligent transport systems, dematerialization (for example electronic files instead of paper, downloading videos instead of DVDs etc.)

ICTs give us all of this while, at the same time, improving people’s lives by bringing them the benefits of the information society.

However not everyone is benefitting. Many developing countries are still suffering from the so called digital divide. There is a clear link between efforts to bridge the digital divide and efforts to combat climate change.

The cost of broadband access in some developing countries is more than 100 times that in a typical developed country.

A mechanism is needed to stimulate investment in smart technologies in developing countries in return for carbon credits.

For this a common approach to measure the positive impact of ICTs is needed.

This is why ITU is developing a methodology in cooperation with many other organizations and the major ICT companies.

Interoperability and standardization are vitally important.

New collaborative mechanisms are needed between different industry sectors that have traditionally been separate communities.

With 191 government members and over 700 private sector members ITU is ready and willing to contribute to this effort.

In conclusion, ICTs are a major part of the solution to climate change, and should be at the centre of these climate change discussions.

Unfortunately today ICTs are not mentioned anywhere in the text.

We strongly believe that ICTs can be of benefit in all areas… mitigation, adaptation, monitoring, capacity building and financing.

We call upon all governments, as this is a party-driven process, to include reference to the ICT/telecommunications Sector under sectoral approaches, such as in Non-paper 17.

Just last week in Geneva, ITU’s governing Council approved a Resolution on ICTs and Climate Change that invites administrations to develop common proposals related to the role of ICTs in mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change for incorporation in a new UN agreement.

I look forward to hearing our panelists’ thoughts on this… timely and important topic.

Thank you


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Updated : 2009-11-11