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Standards needed to achieve net-zero, said UN SG at COP26

The world’s leading developers of international standards – the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) – have signalled their strong interest in working with the United Nations to combat climate change. They were responding to a decision by António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, to establish a group of experts to “propose clear standards to measure and analyse net-zero commitments from non-state actors”.

The three international standards bodies applauded Mr Guterres for recognizing the importance of standards in his opening address to COP26 and said they would be delighted to collaborate on any such initiative to share existing standards already widely used and assist in developing future ones to meet world needs. 

“In support of the realization of an ‘All Electric Society’, we offer a widely recognized neutral, independent, consensus-based institutional framework that helps building net-zero commitments into systems and infrastructure for concrete contributions to climate change mitigation,” explained Philippe Metzger, IEC General Secretary & CEO.

“The world needs to collaborate now, more than ever, to reach net-zero commitments. ISO standards represent such collaboration and are vital to a sustainable future,” said Sergio Mujica, ISO Secretary-General.

“ITU is ready to join the global alliance for climate actions with standards and development programmes, sharing the COP26 conviction that we need to build solidarity towards achieving global net-zero emissions,” said Chaesub Lee, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau.

Climate guidance for cities and countries

IEC, ISO and ITU have hundreds of internationally agreed standards dedicated to achieving net-zero commitments, including those that measure carbon emissions, define climate change mitigation, frame the use of carbon-free technologies and the corresponding adaptation measures. Many are the international reference used in sustainability policy making.

ISO’s commitment to the net-zero goals was reinforced with the recent London Declaration. The declaration pledges to ensure standards help to accelerate the successful achievement of the Paris Agreement, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations Call for Action on Adaptation and Resilience. IEC supports the objectives of this declaration.

The London Declaration is complemented by the IEC and ISO “Climate Action Kit”, a package to support policy makers in their commitment to reducing net greenhouse gas emissions. The package presents case studies on how standards can support public policies and influence climate change initiatives.

The broad range of ITU standards linking information and communication technology (ICT) with the global drive towards net-zero emissions include technical and policy guidance for cities and countries innovating with digital technologies to reduce emissions and accelerate adaptation actions and resilience, methodologies to measure the growing carbon footprint of the ICT sector, and the first ICT sector science-based pathway in line with the Paris Agreement.

ITU’s Connect 2030 Agenda for Global Telecommunication/ICT Development also calls for a 30 per cent increase in net telecommunication/ICT-enabled greenhouse gas abatement by 2023 compared to the 2015 baseline, a resolution which has been adopted by 193 Member States.

IEC, ISO and ITU will continue reinforcing their work together to achieve net-zero emissions, leveraging collaborative platforms such as the IEC-ISO-ITU Joint Task Force on standards for smart cities. 

Image credit: Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images.

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