September 28, 2011, 4:50 PM — The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has reached an agreement on ways to measure the impact of IT systems on the environment, in an effort to standardize the widely varying estimates now in use, the group said Wednesday.
The ITU's approach is an attempt to create a global standard to measure the effect of IT systems on global emissions, including estimates on how IT products can reduce emissions, said the group, the technology arm of the United Nations. The ITU worked with other standards-setting groups, including the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission, to develop the standards, the ITU said in a press release.
The ITU did not provide details about the new standard, approved by Study Group 5 of its Telecommunication Standardization Sector, meeting in Seoul. ITU spokespeople were not immediately available for comment.
The standard, developed by ITU's industry members, will be "important in ensuring it gains wide acceptance by the world's ITC [information technology and communication] industry," Hamadoun Touré, ITU's secretary general, said in a statement. "An internationally agreed methodology means estimates of the impact of ICTs on greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption will now have much greater credibility. It will also show just how significant a contribution ICTs can make by reducing global emissions in other sectors."
Also at the Seoul meeting, the group agreed to produce a report outlining the due diligence electronic device makers should take when dealing with conflict minerals mined areas of armed conflict or human rights abuses. The report is a response to a request from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where many conflict minerals come from.
The ITU will survey of existing due diligence requirements and guidelines about sources of conflict minerals, including minerals smelted into tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold. The minerals covered in the report are used in a variety of electronic devices, including smartphones and laptops.
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is email@example.com.