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COP28: Industry-wide partnerships for a sustainable future

Guest blog by Tomas Lamanauskas, ITU Deputy Secretary General, for techUK’s Climate Action at COP28 Campaign Week 2023.

The world’s collective chance to beat the climate crisis is evaporating quickly.  

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called on leaders “from governments, business, cities and regions, civil society and finance” to cooperate on cutting greenhouse gas emissions and “come up with new, tangible and credible climate action.” 

Holding the crucial 1.5-degree line in the face of the rise in global temperatures requires urgent, practical solutions with everyone on board. Digital technologies can make a decisive difference. 

Digital companies and industry groups will be active at COP28, alongside governments, international organizations, and civil society, all seeking a collective breakthrough to rescue our planet. 

ITU – the UN agency for digital technologies – is rallying partners from the tech industry to drive Green Digital Action at COP28

Collective action for a sustainable future

Our collective action aims to optimize resource consumption and curb the exponential growth of e-waste – to make humanity’s future sustainable. 

Green Digital Action at COP28 should also help every segment of our industry advance towards carbon neutrality without further delay. 

Finally, digital technologies are needed to keep our world safer in the face of climate change-induced risks, including the rising incidence of disasters. 

Digitalization, if done right, can support ambitious solutions to serve growing populations and make the world a better place for everyone. 

Already, digital technologies are helping to cut emissions from industry, transport, energy production, and the whole supply chain for devices and applications. Tech firms are purchasing growing shares of renewable energy, investing in carbon removal, and issuing green bonds. For now, however, the rapid growth of today’s digital society continues to increase energy consumption, emissions, material use, and e-waste by our own sector. 

ITU provides globally recognized green standards and guidance for manufacturers and service providers, with a focus on creating circular economies. In parallel, we track the emissions, energy consumption and climate commitments of digital companies (see Greening Digital Companies 2023) and monitor tech-related emissions data on a country level. 

Still, we need transparent reporting on greenhouse gas emissions from all digital companies. Collective industry-wide commitments can help today’s emitters also become carbon neutral. 

Committing to measurable targets

At COP28, we expect to see companies from around the world commit to credible and measurable emissions reduction targets aligned with the 1.5-degree limit. We aim to form a working group on emission factors and create a database to measure decarbonization across our sector.  

Prominent telecom and satellite operators will pledge their support for Early Warnings for All, a key step to facilitate climate adaptation globally. We also expect stepped up support for e-waste regulation. 

With our fellow global standards-making organizations, we call for integrating sustainable design principles across all future standards​, as well as mobilize partners to drive the implementation of green standards across the digital tech industry. 

Green Digital Action aims to put our industry on the right side of history.

Doing so depends on building bridges across different areas of expertise – in government, industry, academia, civil society. 

Everyone needs to be at the table. Only together can we make sure that we fully leverage green digital potential and put our world back on a sustainable track. 

Learn more about Green Digital Action at COP28. 

This article first appeared as a guest blog on techUK.

Header image credit: European Space Agency via Wikimedia Commons

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