European Commission backs ITU eco-impact methodologies

The ITU-T L.1410 and L.1420 Recommendations to assess the environmental impacts of ICTs are among 10 international methodologies to have been pilot-tested in Europe’s bid to establish and converge around a common international framework to assess the energy and emission footprint of the ICT sector.

Recommendation ITU-T L.1410 “Methodology for environmental impacts of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) goods, networks and services” provides a standardized way to assess the direct environmental impact of ICT goods, networks and services, as well as their indirect impact on the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of non-ICT industry sectors. It is based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology standardized in ISO 14040 and ISO 14044.

ITU-T L. 1420 “Methodology for energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions impact assessment of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in organizations” standardizes the requirements with which an organization should comply when assessing energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is based on ISO 14064-1.

In a study led by the European Commission, 27 leading ICT companies and associations engaged in a 10-month trial of measurement methodologies developed by entities including international standards development organizations (SDOs) such as ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T), ISO, IEC, ETSI and the GHG Protocol.

The study was commissioned by the European Commission’s DG CONNECT as part of its ICT Footprint initiative which aims to test the workability and compatibility of ‘footprinting’ methodologies in the ICT sector, with the overarching goal of building consensus and engendering convergence around a “common methodological framework for the measurement of the energy consumption and carbon emissions arising from the production, transport and selling processes of ICT goods, networks and services.”

The results of the study are detailed in a report titled “ICT Footprint: Pilot testing on methodologies for energy consumption and caron footprint of the ICT-sector”.

The pilots recognized Recommendation ITU-T L.1420 as the only available international reporting methodology to assess ICT-related energy consumption and/or greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in ICT organizations as well as ICT-related activities within non-ICT organizations.

As regards products, networks and services, similarities were found between Recommendation ITU-T L.1410 and ETSI TS 103 199 “Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of ICT equipment, networks and services: General methodology and common requirements with the goal to develop a common ITU-T/ETSI Methodology for ICT products, networks and services”.

The report concludes by recommending actions through which policy makers, SDOs and industry can accelerate the drive towards a common international ICT-footprinting framework. The pilot-testing has proven that the work performed by ITU-T is resulting in robust deliverables and should be leveraged as a basis for future enhancements.

Acting on suggestions from the pilot-testing report, ITU-T Study Group 5 (Environment and climate change) and the ETSI Technical Committee on Environmental Engineering (ETSI TC EE) are collaborating on the revision of their respective standards, Recommendation ITU-T L. 1410 and ETSI TS 103 199.

A first meeting between the two expert groups will discuss a roadmap for this collaboration. Kindly hosted by ETSI, the meeting will be held in Sophia Antipolis, France, 27-31 May 2013. Details can be found here.

Read more on ITU-T Study Group 5 here

Read more on ITU-T and climate change here

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