After eleven days of negotiations, delegates at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December produced a non-legally binding agreement which essentially recognized that temperature rises needed to be kept below 2ºC, but contained no commitments to reduced emission targets that would meet that goal. The closest it came to hard numbers was a pledge of $30 billion to help developing countries adapt to climate change, which would be increased to $100 billion by 2020.
Whether that outcome counts as a success or a failure depends on who you ask. The most positive comments - mainly from leaders like US president Barack Obama, British PM Gordon Brown, China PM Wen Jiabao and India's environment minister Jairam Ramesh - called the accord a "positive" result and "a good start". Others expressed disappointment and dismay, and NGOs called it an "abject failure" due to its non-binding nature and a lack of hard targets and solutions.
The COP15 summit is almost certainly a failure from the point of view of telecoms, mobile and ICT organizations that attended the summit in the hopes of convincing negotiators to make information communications technology a key part of their climate change strategies.
ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré urged delegates to harness ICT to help reduce emissions, citing studies showing that more effective use of ICTs could cut CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) emissions by as much as 40% by 2050. One study - released during COP15 by IDC - estimated that 5.8 billion Gigatons (Gt) of CO2 emissions can be eliminated by 2020 through the focused use of ICT-based solutions, with six APAC countries - Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan and Korea - accounting for over 40% of that figure.
"Put simply, ICT is the single most powerful tool humankind has at its disposal to avoid potential climate catastrophe," Tour?said in a statement.
The GSM Association was also at the summit pitching mobile's role in fighting climate change via its Green Manifesto. Announced at the GSMA's Mobile Asia Congress in mid-November, the manifesto not only pledges to reduce the mobile industry's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 40% by 2020, but also help other sectors reduce their own emissions footprint by up to 20%.
How was that message received? "We felt quite shut out from the big picture," GSMA senior vice president Gabriel Solomon told Wireless Asia.