Thursday, May 28, 2009

Governments paving the way - OECD ICT conference

In the keynote speeches yesterday we heard about the aggressive greening targets that have been set by the Korean government in their recovery package.

Perhaps key in this plan is the development of an ultra green, 1 Gbps wired (10 Mbps wireless), 2-way, broadband network. This network will allow Korea to reach the goal of having 20% of public institution employees teleworking by 2013, and will make possible the development of sophisticated tele-education and telemedicine. It will also improve the speed of transmission of environmental information and will be used along with other ICTs towards, among other things, the intelligent management of rivers to measure and respond to pollution.

There are even plans for smart work centres which will allow for CO2-free commutes by locating the centres in such a way that cycling and walking to work is facilitated.

In these ways it is clear that Korea is taking to heart the need to address the 2%* and the 98%** that have been regularly mentioned throughout the conference.

All of this is very exciting.

And while it is true that Korea is really leading the way, they are far from being the only country making strong targets in regards to emissions reductions, and the use of ICTs in that effort.

The EU has made a commitment to have a 20% reduction in emissions by 2020 (from 1990 levels), also known as the 20/20/20 Plan. Many governments plan to go even further - Norway for example is targeting a 30% reduction.

Germany has developed a very strong green ICT plan as has Denmark. Both of which I am hoping to obtain a copy of.

The UK government has developed a Green ICT Scorecard which contains 18 actions that the UK govt CIOs must deliver on. These actions will be measured against 10 mandatory targets. The results of this scorecard will be released on July 22, 2009. The UK government is also taking a strong stance on the need to include the full lifecycle of energy consumption of ICTs when accounting for carbon emissions of ICTs. I was pleased to hear specific mention of the need to increase the lifecycle of ICTs to their natural demise and of reducing the number of ICTs in use (one device to one employee).

While I didn't get the answers I was hoping for in terms of how to get over the implementation barriers to start making change at the front lines (e.g. in our offices, our homes etc), that wasn't really the point of this session.

The point, and what was made clear, is that these governments are serious about reducing their CO2 emissions in regards to the use and enabling of ICTs.

It was very clear that this is not just lip service. These are real goals and commitments and all countries (OECD and others) should take note.

As Minister Sander mentioned in his opening address:
"The OECD countries are the richest and most advanced economies in the world. This status comes with great opportunities and great responsibilities.
We must lead. If we do not, no one will follow."

Hear! hear! :)

*2% of the global carbon emissions come from the usage of ICTs
*98% is the area of opportunity where ICTs can be used to reduce the emissions of other sectors (outside the ICT sector)

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