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AI for Good Global Summit

Press release

Tech industry boosts climate commitment through Green Digital Action at COP28

UN tech agency and partners show the way forward on climate action




Dubai, 09 December 2023

​​​Members of the global tech sector have committed to increase action to help solve the climate crisis through Green Digital Action at COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 

The commitments from tech companies and governments – including mitigation and adaptation efforts – came at the first Green Digital Action series and signal the advance of digital technology in support of climate action. 

Through Green Digital Action, ITU, the UN tech agency, aims to bring the entire digital technology sector together to speed up collective efforts on the climate crisis. 

“Digital technologies can be a key ally in tackling climate change," said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, ITU Secretary-General. “These Green Digital Action commitments show that the digital sector can lead the way in using tech for climate action while also reducing its impact on the environment." 

Among the outcomes of Green Digital Action at COP28 are:
  • Corporate agreements on reducing greenhouse gas emissions following science-based targets aligned with the goal of limiting climate warming to 1.5oC, and creating transition plans as well as increasing transparency on emissions data across the tech industry.
  • Cross-country collaboration to develop e-waste regulation as a key vehicle to foster a circular tech industry.
  • Joint statement by the leading international standards developers - ITU, ISO and IEC - on the importance of sustainability being built into technical standards development by design, and standards helping the world reach net-zero emissions and achieve a resource-efficient circular and low-carbon economy.
  • Strengthening of industry and country collaboration on the implementation of environmental sustainability standards through an action plan.
  • Pledge from the mobile telecommunication and satellite industry to support the Early Warnings for All initiative through cell-broadcast and direct-to-device services to protect everyone through life-saving disaster alerts by 2027. A public sector pledge to implement cell-broadcast using a regulatory approach was also made.​

“The digital technology sector is giving us reason for hope with their clear commitments on climate action," said Tomas Lamanauskas, ITU Deputy Secretary-General, who convened Green Digital Action. “We will work with our tech partners to ensure follow-through on these commitments with the aim of expanding and strengthening them in the future." 

Green Digital Action took place from 2 through 9 December at COP28 to announce tech sector commitments and to​ accelerate action. The outcomes are the result of a nearly year-long effort involving over 40 partners - including industry associations, UN agencies, governments and businesses - to unite the global digital community, develop collaborative solutions, and step up climate action across the industry.

The tech industry is estimated to be responsible for between 1.5 to 4 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Growing data storage and processing needs, including for AI systems, are further increasing the sector's carbon footprint and require a significant amount of energy.

Technology can also bolster climate action.

In areas such as climate monitoring and big data research, technology can identify climate trends and provide guidance on solutions. Technology can support adaptation through early warning systems, as well as mitigation efforts by boosting energy efficiency, building green networks and developing circular economies. 

Earlier this year, the SDG Digital Acceleration Agenda - a global analysis released as part of SDG Digital - reported that more than two-thirds of the UN's targets for sustainable development can benefit directly from digital technologies.

As Green Digital Action advances, it will work to secure more commitments and bring together more partners. ITU and its Green Digital Action partners are calling for a dedicated digital day at COP29 to position digital technologies and services as a key factor in the efforts against the climate crisis.

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Editor's Notes: 

Link to Green Digital Action at COP28 website for full list of commitments. 

Resources:

For more information:

About ITU
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs), driving innovation in ICTs together with 193 Member States and a membership of over 900 companies, universities, and international and regional organizations. Established over 150 years ago, ITU is the intergovernmental body responsible for coordinating the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoting international cooperation in assigning frequencies and, if necessary, associated satellite orbits, improving communication infrastructure in the developing world, and establishing the worldwide standards that foster seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems. From broadband networks to cutting-edge wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, radio astronomy, oceanographic and satellite-based earth and oceanographic monitoring as well as converging fixed and mobile phone, Internet and broadcasting technologies, ITU is committed to connecting the world. For more information, visit: www.itu.int