Broadcasters should prioritize the reduction of energy consumption over carbon offsetting schemes when taking action on sustainability. That is the essence of a recently published opinion from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). All broadcasters should be aiming to move towards net zero carbon emissions it says.

In the context of concerted efforts throughout the media and entertainment industry to take action on climate change, carbon offsetting programmes offer one means of reducing the overall carbon footprint of an organization. Indeed, the United Nations Carbon Offset Platform has identified that offsetting offers a way to reduce emissions globally. However, the ITU group that is addressing the topic of energy awareness in broadcasting has concluded that such programmes should only be used once all possible energy-efficiency measures have been taken.

The opinion emerged from ITU-R Study Group 6. The EBU's Hemini Mehta is co-rapporteur for this activity, alongside InterDigital’s Erik Reinhard. They drafted the opinion together with Andy Quested (formerly of BBC R&D), who continues to actively contribute to EBU and ITU activities.

"Carbon neutrality can be achieved in many ways," says Mehta, who coordinates EBU T&I's sustainability group. "While offsetting schemes have a role to play – and due diligence should be done in selecting one – they shouldn't be used as a pass for irresponsible behaviour. We must look first to reduce our own direct and indirect emissions."

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