Information technology has a key role to play in tackling climate change, according to the ITU
Information and communication technologies have a fundamental role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and in helping countries worldwide adapt to climate change, according to a report by the ITU and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative.
ICTs can help tackle the problem of climate change both by driving down emissions in the technology sector – using more efficient equipment and providing better waste management – and improving energy efficiency in other sectors, by reducing their energy needs.
“ICTs are uniquely powerful tools for reducing emissions in every other sector. They also play an essential role in climate science. And because of this major role, they offer one of the most significant opportunities to reduce GHG emissions, especially in those industries that are among the highest producers of CO2, such as energy generation, waste disposal, construction and transport,” commented ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré, who has been campaigning on this issue for some years.
“I call on the international community to recognise that ICTs must be a key component of efforts to mitigate climate change, and that ICTs support what climate change threatens most: sustainable development.”
Improving sustainability worldwide
The report highlights the importance of ICTs in monitoring climate and weather, and swiftly transmitting data, analysis and alerts. They can systematically monitor world supplies and shortages of water and food crops, as well as delivering advice to farmers on how to improve yields. Computing power and broadband networks also play an increasing role in delivering online access to education and medical services, even in remote communities.
The ITU claims that ICTs are a powerful tool in addressing the requirements of of the Bali Action Plan arising from COP-13 in December 2007: enhanced action on adaptation, cooperative action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and actions on mitigation of climate change.
The news comes as government spending cuts in the UK threaten to cripple many first-generation green IT projects. Compass Management Consulting warned in October that the lack of defined fiscal benefit means that more and more green IT projects are being quietly dropped.
Despite these warnings, the government has reiterated its target of becoming ‘the greenest government ever‘, and in October announced £1 billion in funding for a Green Investment Bank, which will provide financial interventions to unlock significant new private investment in green infrastructure projects.
However, one of the government’s flagship green schemes to cut carbon emissions among businesses is in tatters, after it announced it would delay the introduction of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) until 2012.