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Internet Governance

ICTs and Climate Change – Dynamic Coalition

Chair: Arthur Levin (ITU)

I attended 3 sessions to do with the Internet and Climate Change. This first one was an introductory session facilitated by the Dynamic Coalition which is an open body coordinated by ITU committed to moderating the environmental impact of the internet and to seeking new ways to embrace the power of the internet for reducing gas emissions worldwide. It also seeks to enable transformation in line with the objectives set and to be set under the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention for Climate Change)  and their work can be found on the ITU website. After the group introduced themselves and provided a brief scope of interest, Arthur explained the rols of the Coalition – to share info on plans and initiatives with each member (you can subscribe online) and to consider issues related to climate change, to identify possible projects and to liaise with the UN and other CC-related agencies.  Dr Hossam Allam provided statistics explaining the impacts of climate change on global temperature and the resultant rise in water levels and the increasing number of  mobile phone subscriptions. The broadband  and its costs are indicators of development –  ICT costs more in developing countries yet drives all aspects of growth. Internet can be used to reduce emissions – video and teleconferences, Flexi-work, eLearning, eCommerce, eBanking, eGovernment. Arthur Levin explained how one of the significant impacts of Climate Change was the costs for many countries that are not a major source of emissions anyway, for example, the small island nations in the Pacific who have a total GHG emission rate of o,o3% of the global total, yet have the potential to suffer the impact of rising water levels. Some low lying island countries  are less than a kilometer wide and the population live close to their coastlines. Some coral atolls are just a few meters above sea level. The propensity for hurricanes will increase by 10-25% for each 1 degree of warming of the sea..Yet things are not looking too good for these countries at Copenhagen as it is too difficult to get some agreement among large industrial countries. The Coalition is trying very hard to get ICTs mentioned in the new agreement, or even reflected in the text.  Arthur further explained that ICTs matter because 2-3% of emissions come from ICTs (airplanes and shipping also emit about 3% each). ICT trends show that the market for devices doubles every 5 years – there are more electronic “must haves”.  However there are no energy efficiency standards for mobile phones or laptops. These are needed to measure the impact of ICTs on climate. Smart buildings and smart grids can also be introduced by local governments to reduce emissions. The ICT industry needs to grow in an environmentally friendly manner (eg the universal charger for mobile phones – do they need to have a separate one for each model?)