ITU Targets 45% Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction By 2030


Emma Okonji

A new ITU standard highlights that compliance with the Paris Agreement will require the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 45 per cent from 2020 to 2030.

The standard will support ICT companies in reducing GHG emissions at the rate necessary to meet the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°c above pre-industrial levels.

The recommended emission-reduction targets are the first targets specific to the ICT industry to be approved by the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi).
The ITU standard – ITU L.1470 “GHG emissions trajectories for the ICT sector compatible with the UNFCCC Paris Agreement” – was developed in collaboration with the Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), GSMA and SBTi.

It is supported by associated Guidance for ICT Companies setting Science-Based Targets.

ITU L.1470 puts forward emission-reduction trajectories for operators of mobile networks, fixed networks and data centres.
The standard and associated guidance will support operators in setting targets aligned with the latest climate science, the ‘science-based targets’ recognised by SBTi.

According to ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao, “This new ITU standard offers authoritative guidance on the pathway towards net zero emissions for the ICT industry. 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.”
29 operator groups representing 30 per cent of the mobile connections worldwide are already committed to science-based targets, reports GSMA.
ITU L.1470, according to Zhao, would support many more operators in the shift to renewable and low-carbon energy that 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, incentivized by associated cost savings as well as revenue-generation opportunities stemming from ICTs’ increasing ability to improve energy efficiency in other industry sectors,” Zhao said.

ITU L.1470 is under the responsibility of the ITU-T standardization study group for ‘environment, climate change and circular economy’, ITU-T Study Group 5.
The ninth edition of ITU Green Standards Week in Valencia, Spain, in October 2019, brought together governments, city leaders, businesses and citizens to share their experiences in driving the behavioural change required to achieve smart city objectives.

Participants adopted a ‘Call to Action’ urging city stakeholders to accelerate the transition to Smart Sustainable Cities.

According to the Director of ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, Chaesub Lee, “Our cities are powerful engines of economic growth. But they are also the main source of GHG emissions and the main driving force behind our consumption of energy.”

Lee added, “It is clear to see why Smart Sustainable Cities have become a key policy point to administrations worldwide.”