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ITU encourages ICT sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

28 Feb 2020

The ICT industry should work towards reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 45% in the next 10 years, in order to comply with the Paris Agreement.

That’s according to new guidelines from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and partner organisations including the GSM Association (GSMA), Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), and the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI).

The 45% emissions reduction target is part of a new ITU standard supports companies in the ICT sector.

The standard will allow ICT companies to meet the requirements set out in the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5°c above pre-industrial levels.

The ITU Standard, called  ITU L.1470 “GHG emissions trajectories for the ICT sector compatible with the UNFCCC Paris Agreement, was developed by ITU and its partners. 

It calls for emissions reduction trajectories for mobile network operators, data centres, and fixed networks. 

“This new ITU standard offers authoritative guidance on the pathway towards net zero emissions for the ICT industry,” says ITU secretary-general Houlin Zhao.

“The standard is an example of what can be achieved with good collaboration between key partners. It represents a significant contribution to the international effort in pursuit of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

According to ITU, 29 operator groups – which represent 30% of mobile connections worldwide - are committed to science-based targets. 

These groups include global and local operators such as América Móvil, AT&T, BT, Bharti Airtel, Deutsche Telekom, Elisa, Far Eastone, KPN, Magyar Telekom, NTT DOCOMO, Orange, Proximus, Reliance Jio Infocomm, Safaricom, Singtel, SK Telecom, STC, Swisscom, T Mobile USA, Taiwan Mobile, TDC, Tele2, Telefónica, Telekom Austria, Telenor, Telia Company, Telstra, Verizon and Vodafone.

According to ITU, “The shift to renewable and low-carbon energy is expected to account for the majority of the ICT industry’s GHG emission reductions over the 2020-2030 timeframe. ICT companies will also continue to achieve greater energy efficiency, incentivised by associated cost savings as well as revenue-generation opportunities stemming from ICTs’ increasing ability to improve energy efficiency in other industry sectors.”

Recently the United Nations launched an online course on the subject of e-waste management. The ITU says that e-waste is a serious danger to people and the environment if it is not dealt with properly. There is also potential to make use of raw materials such as copper, gold, nickel, and palladium.

The online course provides an introduction to e-waste, as well as its effects on children’s health, how to reduce e-waste, and how to recycle it.