Why technology must get a mention in Copenhagen text

Lobbyists are stepping up efforts to have IT included in the text for December's climate change talks in Copenhagen.

Despite the crucial role...

Lobbyists are stepping up efforts to have IT included in the text for December's climate change talks in Copenhagen.

Despite the crucial role technology is expected to play in helping to measure the carbon costs of projects and products, and in providing innovative new ways of lowering carbon emissions, there is no current mention of the IT sector in the upcoming climate talks.

UN secretary Ban Ki Moon is expected to mention the importance of IT in his speech, and the UK government has thrown its weight behind a large-scale project to slash the footprint of its enormous IT estate.

But Copenhagen is currently set to follow the Kyoto agreement, with no mention of the role technology can play in cutting carbon.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a UN agency, is battling, along with the OECD, the Global e-Sustainability Initiative and UK green IT figurehead Catalina McGregor, to get IT mentioned.

The ITU will continue to work on a methodology to measure the carbon footprint of IT products and projects, but Malcolm Johnson, director of the ITU's Standardisation Bureau, says inclusion of IT in the text would give a huge boost to the agency's efforts.

It would open up the possibility of the IT sector being included in the Clean Development Mechanism, part of the Kyoto agreement, he says.

This would allow IT companies to invest in clean technology in developing countries, in exchange for being required to implement more expensive emissions reductions in their own countries.

Johnson said, "Inclusion in the Copenhagen text would mean awareness is raised, and ICT is recognised as being significant. It will help our whole effort.

"We have been told it is too late to include ICT in the text, but it is important. People we tell are amazed that there is no mention of ICT in 200 pages of text."

He says big IT companies such as BT and Cisco have been supportive of the ITU's efforts. "It is a business opportunity. As well as the environment, we also have to think about our sector and grow it at every opportunity."

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