ICT industry to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 45% by 2030

13th March 2020 By: Natasha Odendaal - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

A new International Telecommunications Union (ITU) standard will require the global information and communication technology (ICT) industry to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by 45% from 2020 to 2030.

The ITU L.1470 standard stipulates emission-reduction trajectories for operators of mobile networks, fixed networks and data centres that are robust enough to meet the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change Paris Agreement’s target to limit global warming to below 1.5 ºC above preindustrial levels.

“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 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” he added.

The recommended emission-reduction targets are the first, specific to the ICT industry, to be approved by the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi) and have been developed in collaboration with the Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative, GSMA and SBTi.

Some 29 operator groups representing 30% of the mobile connections worldwide are already committed to science-based targets.

ITU L.1470 will support many more operators to ensure conformity, particularly with the shift to renewable and low-carbon energy expected to account for the bulk of the ICT industry’s GHG emission reductions over the next decade.

The sector’s increasing ability to improve energy efficiency in other industries will lead to greater energy efficiency and associated cost savings, as well as revenue-generation opportunities.

The ITU L.1470 standard is the responsibility of the ITU-T standardisation study group for ‘environment, climate change and the circular economy’, or ITU-T Study Group 5 (SG5), which studies methodologies for evaluating ICT effects on climate change and publishes guidelines for using ICTs in an ecofriendly way.

The group is also responsible for studying design methodologies to reduce ICTs and ewaste’s adverse environmental effects, for example, through the recycling of facilities and equipment.

SG5 recently developed an energy-efficient one-charger-fits-all mobile phone solution, which enables the same charger to be used for all future handsets, regardless of make or model.

A universal charging solution has also been developed for stationary ICT devices, such as modems, set-top boxes, home networking equipment and fixed telephones.

This has the potential to reduce the number of chargers manufactured by widening the range of compatible devices, facilitating adapter reuse and recycling and increasing build quality and resilience to overvoltages.