ICT specialists attending the crucial UN climate change meeting this week in Barcelona are expressing themselves aghast that, so far, there is no mention of ICTs in the crucial 'draft' text that is the meeting's raison d'être. Ian Scales reports.
In fact, as things currently stand, there's a chance that the week-long Barcelona meeting's output, which is supposed to provide the draft text to be debated at the crucial Copenhagen meeting next month (COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference, Copenhagen, December 2009) will have nothing to say about ICTs and the crucial role information technology can play in reducing CO2 emissions and stemming climate change.
The Copenhagen meeting is supposed to be critical. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 by the United Nations and it set out carbon emission reduction targets and signed up the member states to take action to meet them. That protocol ends in 2012 and that means that a new deal must be agreed in Copenhagen next month. So will ICT be on the emissions agenda? Maybe not.
"It's amazing that there's no recognition for technology which could play such an important role in the needed reductions," says Malcolm Johnson, director of the ITU standardisation Bureau.
"Very few people outside the ICT industry seem to understand its potential," he says in an exclusive interview with TelecomTV at the event
Part of the problem may be that many "Green" campaigners view technology as the thing that "got us in this mess in the first place" and find the idea of a "techno-fix" being part of the solution as antithetical to the whole green effort. They also worry that the promise of a technological fix may reduce the urgency people might feel to reduce consumption and lower energy and resource usage.
However, if this is indeed the reason that ICTs are being overlooked it will be a slap in the face for the ICT industry in general, and the ITU in particular, which has been campaigning hard to get some ICT recognition.
Still, a week is a long time in Green Politics. Perhaps by the end the lobbying will have had an effect. See Guy Daniels' report from Barcelona
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