At the UN level, Parties to the UNFCCC reached a landmark agreement at the COP 21 Conference in Paris, France, on 12 December 2015 to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low-carbon future. The Paris Agreement built on the Convention and brought together all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries.
Various ICT services are useful for monitoring climate change and storms (e.g. better modelling and prediction of weather and of climate, space-based observation of greenhouse gas emissions or GHGs). ITU supports the growth of satellite surveillance and monitoring services from space for:
- Monitoring GHG emissions and pollution;
- Improving climate modelling and prediction of trends;
- Forecasting weather more accurately and predicting extreme weather events linked to climate change.
ITU-R Working Party 7B (WP 7B) studies space radiocommunication applications relevant to climate change.
ITU-R Working Party 7C (WP 7C) studies the remote sensing systems that are important for monitoring and tracking the extent, pace and acceleration of climate change.
ITU-T Study Group 5 studies 'Environment, climate change and circular economy'. The group has been working on developing international standards (i.e. ITU-T Recommendations) that support the sustainable use of ICTs (including products, services, installation, infrastructure, etc.). Recently,
Study Group 5 is working to align the development of ICTs with the UN
2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UNFCCC Paris Agreement.
ITU has partnered with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTI), the Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and the GSMA to set the ICT sector and sub-sector on a clear GHG reduction pathway, and is working on a new international standard that will set the GHG emission trajectories for the ICT sector to be compatible with the UNFCCC Paris Agreement.
ITU-D has a Study Group Question 6/2 on ICTs and the Environment about climate change, its effects and assisting in the transition towards a green and circular economy. ITU has a portfolio of
activities in e-waste and aims to tackle the challenges faced by this waste stream at the global, regional and national level. Priorities include conducting life-cycle analysis of products and processes, helping shift current economic models to a green and circular economy for ICT equipment, supporting policy and regulatory development, producing standards, improving and collecting worldwide e-waste data and raising awareness.
Recognizing the growing footprint of digital technologies, ITU has also created the new
Focus Group on “Environmental Efficiency for AI and other Emerging Technologies". This focus group will study the environmental performance of AI, Big Data application, blockchain and other digital technologies. The group will identify the standardization needs to develop a sustainable approach to AI and other emerging technologies. ITU published a report, entitled “Turning digital technology innovation into climate action", to highlight the emerging role of digital technologies in accelerating climate actions and tackling the e-waste challenge. With other UN partners, ITU also recently published the report, “Frontier Technologies to Protect the Environment and Combat Climate Change" (2020).
The United for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC) initiative is a UN initiative coordinated by ITU and UNECE with the support of 14 other UN agencies and programmes. The initiative is dedicated to support the transition to smart sustainable cities and is developing technical reports and deliverables that encourage circularity actions in cities and examine the impacts of frontier technologies in cities.
In addition, ITU organizes multi-stakeholder events to highlight the role of ICTs in climate change. With eight other UN agencies and programmes, ITU hosts a
Symposium on ICT, Environment & Climate Change
 regularly, which brings together leading telecom executives, policy-makers, service providers, civil society, the academia and UN representatives to discuss how frontier technologies can help combat climate change. ITU also organizes the
Green Standards Week every year to debate key issues relating to ICT standards and the environment. This event brings together the ICT sector, policy-makers, city planners, representatives from civil society, the academia and technical experts to share experiences in building smart sustainable cities and how standards can improve the sustainability of different sectors.
 Para 14, “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development", available at: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/21252030%20Agenda%20for%20Sustainable%20Development%20web.pdf
 Para 14, "Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development", available at: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/21252030%20Agenda%20for%20Sustainable%20Development%20web.pdf
 OECD: https://www.oecd.org/sti/ieconomy/technology-foresight-forum-2014.htm
 "A New Circular Vision for Electronics – Time for a Global Reboot", 24 January 2019, available at: https://www.itu.int/en/mediacentre/Pages/2019-PR01.aspx
 The French Intergovernmental Expert Group on Climate Change (GIEC) and figures quoted by the French Society of Nuclear Energy (SFEN) (which consists of industry professionals), "Climat: faut-il sortir du nucléaire pour sauver la planète ? Sept arguments pour comprendre le débat", 9 July 2019, at: https://www.francetvinfo.fr/societe/nucleaire/climat-faut-il-sortir-du-nucleaire-pour-sauver-la-planete-sept-arguments-pour-comprendre-le-debat_3504835.html
Last update: November 2020