Information and communications technologies are the most powerful tools to stave off potential climate catastrophe, says the secretary general of the International Telecommunications Union, on the eve of the climate change talks that open today in Copenhagen.
Hamadoun Touré called on the COP15 delegates not to dismiss how advanced technologies could cut emissions by many industries.
He said studies showed that more effective use of ICT could deliver "tremendous" CO2 savings. Some had showed that ICT could cut emissions by more than 40% by 2050 - five times what they would contribute in that time, Touré said.
The ITU's Telecommunication Standardisation Bureau (TSB) is working with industry leaders to develop a standardised international methodology for measuring ICT's carbon footprint, and hopes to finalise it by April 2010.
Touré said the ITU wanted COP15 delegates to include ICT in the negotiating text. It also wants them to agree the methodology for measuring ICT's carbon footprint, and include it in national adaptation and mitigation plans.
This would provide the ICT industry with an incentive to invest in developing countries, help narrow the digital divide, and fight climate change - "a win-win scenario", he said.
Touré and the head of the ITU's TSB, Malcolm Johnson, were going to Copenhagen to show how ICT could contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Incoming Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg and Lasse Gustavsson, CEO of WWF Sweden, will join them at a webcast press conference on 16 December to discuss technology solutions to climate change.