A new focus group has been set up by the International Telecommunications Union to work on standards related to the impact of information and communication technologies on climate change. The new group will focus in particular on the reduction of ICT emissions and how ICTs can assist in cutting emissions in other industry sectors such as energy, transportation and buildings.
According to the ITU, while the ICT sector currently contributes between two-to-three percent in of global greenhouse gas emissions, the sector could help cut global emissions by between 15 to 40 per cent, depending on the methodology used to make these estimates. ITU has set out an ambitious work plan for the new Focus Group on ICTs and Climate Change, which is expected to complete its work by April 2009.
The new group follows an earlier announcement by the ITU that it will systematically review all telecoms standards in light of climate change.
A key objective of the Focus Group will be to develop internationally agreed methodologies to describe and estimate the impact of ICTs on climate change, both directly and through their application in other industry sectors. The group was formed following two symposiums organised by the ITU on ICT and climate change in Kyoto in April and London in June this year.
Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau issued a call to arms for the world’s ICT companies and others following the announcement of the Focus Group. “We have heard from industry and from the UN Secretary-General that ITU must tackle this issue of global importance. I encourage all interested parties to participate. This group is open to all and I encourage contributions from the ICT sector as well as other industry sectors, research institutes, and any other specialists in this field,” he said.
ITU is expected to conduct most of its work using remote collaboration tools to the maximum extent, and collocation with other meetings, to minimize its own emissions. Work will start immediately using electronic means, and the group will meet physically for the first time at ITU headquarters in Geneva on 1-3 September 2008 under the chairmanship of David Faulkner of BT.