UK officials fight to get IT on the Copenhagen climate talks agenda

Cabinet Office officials are pushing for IT to be included in the climate change talks in Copenhagen this December.

UK and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) officials are pushing for IT to be included in the climate change talks in Copenhagen this December.

Catalina McGregor, founder of the government's Green ICT delivery unit, is at talks in Barcelona in her role as ITU-T liaison officer to OECD and EC, which will look to produce the draft text to be considered at the Copenhagen summit. She is hoping to get technology on the agenda.

Technology has no mention in the current draft text for Copenhagen, but the ITU says it could cut global emissions by 15% by 2020 and deliver efficiency savings of over €500bn to business. It says technology needs to be part of the solution to global warming.

The ITU said, "Successful strategies will require truly radical change, rather than incremental change to 'business-as-usual' approaches. ICTs are the only tool powerful enough to serve as the 'circuit-breaker' to our current climate-hostile strategies, and to effect the true paradigm shift needed to make a difference."

McGregor says the green ICT sector has significant momentum in it to help reduce emissions. "CIOs today are including bigger picture areas such as clean energy and renewables to reduce CO2 for our power-hungry datacentres so we are in a leadership position to bridge a gap between ICT and CO2 reductions that simply cannot be ignored."

The ways technology could cut emissions include:

  • Smart grids, sustainable networks, energy-efficient datacentres, teleworking, intelligent cars, smart buildings and energy-efficient workspaces.
  • Use of gadgets such as the universal charge, which could cut emissions by 13.6 million tonnes a year.
  • Replacing 20% of business travel a year with technology such as videoconferencing could cut emissions by 22 million tonnes annually.
  • E-mail, online billing, online forms and online music will cut emissions by reducing the need for manufacture or transport.
  • Weather monitoring and early warning systems have a role to play in protecting developing countries, which are hardest hit by the impact of climate change.
  • Social technologies such as Facebook and Twitter have played a key role in increasing awareness of the problem.
  • RFID-based road pricing schemes can encourage greater use of public transport.
  • Telecommuting can save one million tonnes of emissions annually for every one million telecommuters.

Read more on IT efficiency and sustainability

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