While the ICT community is preparing for the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (#WCIT-12) in Dubai, another key UN conference – with the active participation of ITU - is already underway, which seeks a multi-lateral, inclusive approach to address the global challenge of climate change.
The 2012 UN Climate Change Conference (COP18/CMP8), which is currently underway in Doha, is the annual meeting of the countries that ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to work together to address the causes and consequences of climate change.
Climate change is a concern for all of humanity and requires concerted effort from all sectors of society, including the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.
Although ICTs contribute an estimated 2.5 per cent of total greenhouse gas (GHG0) emissions, this share is set to grow as usage of ICTs expand globally, growing at a faster rate than the general economy.
ICTs therefore contribute to global warming; but can also be part of the solution.
ICT enabled applications can assist in reducing the emissions from other significant sectors, such as manufacturing, transportation and energy.
According to the findings of two key reports produced by the UN system in this field – UNEP’s 2012 Emissions Gap Report and the WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin – the amount of GHG emissions in the atmosphere has continued to increase since the adoption of the convention, despite the commitments made to reduce GHG emissions and move towards a low-carbon economy.
Unless this trend is addressed, the world may be heading towards an increase in global average temperatures. This increase could end up being much higher than the 2º Celsius target for 2020 agreed to at previous climate change conferences.
Within this context, ITU is taking part in the conference as the specialized agency of the United Nations dealing with ICTs to bring solutions to the negotiating table, and help transform dialogue to action.
ICTs can no longer be solely considered a sector but a catalyst for change and transformation of other sectors.
In particular, ITU will demonstrate how ICTs play a key role in monitoring climatological conditions, mitigating the causes of climate change and assisting countries in adapting to the consequences of climate change.
The global ICT community is keenly aware how these technologies are transforming social, industrial and business processes, making them more efficient and sustainable.
The goal of ITU at the conference is to bring this message to the environmental community and to help to move the climate change agenda forward.
Jose Maria Diaz Batanero is coordinator of intersectoral activites at ITU’s Corporate Strategy Division. An ICT engineer with over 10 years of international experience, his key areas of focus are green ICTs and accessibility to ICTs for persons with disabilities. Jose Maria is a citizen of Spain and a proud father of two girls.