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Seeking Cleaner and Greener Electronics

This is the VOA Special English Technology Report.

Technology experts, government officials, policy makers and engineers are meeting this week in Italy. They have gathered in Rome for the first Green Standards Week conference.

Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development and the International Telecommunications Union organized the conference. The event calls attention to the need for information and communication technologies to fight climate change and to build greener, more environmentally friendly economies.

In recent years, the world has changed because so many people now use computers, mobile phones and other kinds of electronic devices. But the increasing use of information and communication technologies, also known as ICTs, also has led to more pollution, especially greenhouse gas emissions. This is mostly because of the energy used to manufacture, transport and operate such equipment. Still, many experts say ICTs offer the best chance for reducing greenhouse gases.

The Global Information Society Watch reported last year that ICTs could help to cut total production of greenhouse gases by as much as fifteen percent by twenty twenty.

Alan Finlay is with the Association for Progressive Communications. He also helped to prepare the GISWatch report. He says the effect of using ICTs to build cleaner environments is far more powerful than their harmful effects.

ALAN FINLAY: “When you’re look at greening with ITs, you’re looking at the impact of ICTs on the environment but also what ICTs can be used in order to improve the impact of other industries on the environment. And I think the overwhelming consensus is that you can’t throw the baby out with the bath water. And ICTs can do more good in a sort of macro context.”

Mr. Finlay says the GISWatch report and events like the ITU’s Green Standards Week are meant to look at the ICT industry as a whole.

ALAN FINLAY: “To our mind you can’t really divorce issues like e-waste --- which you see the massive negative consequences in Asia for instance, and direct impact on poor people’s lives and well being --- from the equation. So, both need to be looked at the same time.

The ITU says a main goal of the conference is to set clear policies for measuring and improving the ICT industry’s effect on the environment. Another goal is to note the importance of green ICT standards and values.

The Rome meeting is taking place less than three months before the United Nations Climate Change Conference opens in Durban, South Africa.

And that's the VOA Special English Technology Report, written by June Simms. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our reports are at I'm Steve Ember.