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Workshop 53: ITU Workshop on Internet and Climate Change

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) organized a workshop at the IGF on “Internet and Climate Change” on 4 December at 0930.  The Workshop was moderated by Arthur Levin of the ITU and the available presentations are posted on-line. 


It is estimated that the ICT Sector produces some 2-3 per cent of total emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and this share will increase as ICTs and the Internet continue to grow.  Although ICTs contribute to global warming, they can also help by significantly reducing the GHG emissions of other sectors.


The workshop focused on the impact of the Internet on Climate Change.  It featured a number of prominent speakers and was well-attended. 


The Workshop began with a keynote speech by Malcolm Johnson, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (ITU-T).  The Director highlighted the important role that ICTs can play in mitigating the effects of climate change and described the steps ITU is taking to address this problem.  In particular, ITU has established a Focus Group, open to all,  which is tasked to develop agreed global methodologies to measure the impact of ICTs on climate change.  He described concrete examples, such as video and teleconferencing, by which ICTs can be used to reduce GHG emissions and noted the important role of the private sector in addressing this issue.


Don MacLean of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) spoke on the challenges of attaining a high-bandwidth, low-carbon future. He explained the direct, indirect and systemic effects of ICTs on climate change.


Mark Carvell from the United Kingdom outlined the firm commitment taken by the government to set clear targets for reductions of GHG emissions and the efforts being made to use ICTs to attain those goals in the ICT field.


Graham Vickery of the OCED discussed the ways in which ICTs can reduce emissions in other sectors and presented research on the level of actions being taken by the industry to reduce emissions through the full lifecycle of products (manufacture, use, and disposal). 


Guarab Raj Upadhaya of Nepal Wireless spoke on Monitoring Climate Change in the Himalayas.  His presentation demonstrated the concrete ways in which ICTs are being used to monitor the rate of glacier melt in the Himalayas due to climate change and the challenges of using ICTs in that environment.


Arthur Levin of the ITU discussed Next-Generation Networks (NGN) and energy efficiency.  He explained that the deployment of NGNs may lead to energy savings of as much as 40%.


The presentations were followed by a lively debate on the issue.  It was recognized that the rapid growth and deployment of ICTs and the Internet must be done in an environmentally-friendly manner and that this issue should be given prominent focus in the IGF.

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 411