As part of a major initiative to combat climate warming and to examine the relationship between ICTs and climate change, the ITU is organising two global symposia in the first half of 2008. These are aimed at reaching a better understanding of the relationship between ICT and climate change.
The International Symposia on ICTs and Climate Change, featuring high-level experts drawn from industry, government and academia as well as key writers on the topic, will seek to provide guidance to the global ICT sector on how to monitor, mitigate and adapt to climate change. The meetings will take place 15-16 April in Kyoto, Japan, co-organised and hosted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC); and 17−18 June 2008 in London, supported and hosted by BT.
Dr Hamadoun Touré, ITU Secretary-General, says: "Unequivocal and authoritative scientific evidence, recent climate events and an increased public awareness have elevated climate change to the highest rungs of the political agenda – globally, regionally and at national levels. Climate change is a concern for all of humanity and requires efforts on the part of all sectors of society, including the ICT sector. ITU is committed to achieving climate neutrality and to working with our membership to promote the use of ICTs as an effective tool to combat climate change."
It is estimated that ICTs contribute around 2% to 2,5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. These percentages are likely to grow as ICTs become more widely available. At the same time ICTs can be a major linchpin in the effort to combat climate change.
ICTs have the potential to serve as a potent, cross-cutting tool to limit and ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions across economic and social sectors, in particular by the introduction and development of more energy efficient devices, applications and networks, as well as their environmentally sound disposal.
ICT can therefore be a key enabler to a low carbon economy while also promoting growth.
Malcolm Johnson, director of ITU's standardisation arm, says: "The ITU membership has given a very positive response to this initiative. Our governments, service providers and manufacturers have a strong will to address this issue in ITU, and have asked us to lead the industry's efforts to combat climate change. We have already seen in ITU a phenomenal level of effort put into finding ways to reduce power consumption in ICT networks and devices, as well as looking at ways that ICTs can help other industries contribute to this global challenge."
In December 2007, ITU representatives made a statement at the UN Conference on Climate Change in Bali, Indonesia, illustrating how ICTs are both a cause and a potential cure for climate change. UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon previously underlined ITU's role in meeting one of the most important challenges facing mankind. "ITU is one of the very important stakeholders in the area of climate change," he said.