Wednesday, 9 December 2009

IT, Copenhagen and Climate Change

The International Telecommunication Union has successfully lobbied for IT to be included in the drafts of the Copenhagen protocols being discussed by the worlds nations over the next two weeks. 

This will mean IT can be included in projects under the Clean Development Mechanism, allowing investments in IT in the developing world to offset carbon emissions in the developed world.  Understandably most of the players in the field are supporting this in hope of a fresh injection of capital into IT, and hopefully some genuine aspirations for combatting dangerous climate change.

That IT can address global warming is a powerful idea and feeds into the developed worlds hopes that technological solutions will provide a fix to the problems our behavioural and consumptive practises have gotten us into.  Many people are aware of the Gartner statistics that IT contributes as significantly as aviation to global warming, and I thought a run down of some of the excellent reports showing how we reduce the carbon footprint of the rest of society would be useful, which is the basis of the ITU's declaration at Copenhagen.

Saving the climate @ the speed of light Website
The Worldwide Fund for Nature in the US has completed a number of reports looking at ICT and it's ability to reduce anthropogenic climate change.  Once you get past the standard "Green IT" photos of laptops in grass, or someone using a laptop with a plant next to them, there is plenty of good information here about how technology can be the saviour rather than the villian.

Smart 2020 Website
A collaboration between the Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative, quotes the statistic that 15% of business as usual Greenhouse Gas Emissions can be reduced by ICT.  Has sections on dematerialisation, smart grids, transport and more.  Perhaps the most influential of all reports.

European Union Website
With catchy titles and case like "COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS on mobilising Information and Communication Technologies to facilitate the transition to an energy-efficient, low-carbon economy" it's strange that this report hasn't been more widely circulated.  In fairness though there is a lot of good European centric info in the reports the EU has produced, well worth a look at what people closer to policy makers are thinking.

Carbon Connections Website
A Vodfone initiative on how mobile could be used to tackle emissions in the European Union.  Outlines 13 opportunities for mobile technology to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of Europe by 2.4% of expected output in 2020.  Of course they see mobile as the solution in all cases, but still a thought provoking report.

Connected Urban Development Website
A programme by Cisco after they promised to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of the Clinton Global Initiative.  I find this website fascinating, whilst not as large in scope as some of the reports above, a whole host of solutions like better public transport information, remote working, energy management and smart buildings.  Some great futuristic thinking, and they are implementing these solutions in pilot cities which is even better.

I'll be looking at summarising what each of these reports says in future blogs, especially as our world leaders meet to discuss climate change we need the sort of innovative solutions to our problems that these reports detail.  There will be many facets of our move to a low carbon society, and ICT will inevitably be one of the pillars.

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