LONDON--The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is attempting to alert delegates at the UN Conference on Climate Change in Bali, Indonesia, to the role being played by the global electronics and communications industry in both causing and potentially lessening energy use.
In a statement at the conference, which is scheduled to finish Friday (Dec.14) the ITU said the sectors "can play a vital role in combating climate change."
Specifically, the ITU says its member states and companies can do more in remote monitoring of climate change and gathering important scientific data -- for instance, using telemetry or remote sensing by satellite. "Furthermore, smart technologies can usher in a whole new generation of energy-efficient products, notably in next-generation networks (NGN) where ITU's Standardization sector (ITU-T) is carrying out vital specialized work."
The Union's delegates pointed out that the proliferation of ICT products in homes and offices, and their deployment throughout the world, "places an increasingly heavy burden on energy consumption."
They noted that late night glow in homes and offices emanating from computers, DVD players, TVs and battery chargers is all too familiar. And the move to "always-on" services, like broadband or mobile phones on standby, has greatly increased energy consumption compared with fixed-line telephones, which do not require an independent power source.
The ITU also warns energy demands caused by high-tech lifestyles in some countries are now being replicated in others.
Specific measures being undertaken to help alleviate climate change include hosting an international symposium in April 2008 organized as part of ITU's Technology Watch function, aimed at raising awareness of the role that ICT play in climate change.
There are also plans to co-ordinate the orbital and frequency resources for satellites which play a vital role in gathering data on climate change, such as earth-observation and global climate observing systems (GCOS).
The organization's crucial standardization activities would also take in the need to reduce power requirements and thus greenhouse gases in all possible deliberations. It notes standards for next-generation networks being developed at ITU, should bring about a 40 per cent saving in energy consumption compared with today's networks.
Two specific technologies under the standardization spotlight could make a major contribution, the ITU says. These are Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Ubiquitous Sensor Networks (USNs), both of which will have a role in helping to reduce consumption of fossil fuels, by using motion sensors that switch on lights only when necessary or by automatically adjusting heating requirements.