AT&T pledges to help other businesses reduce emissions by a billion tonnes

Image: AT&T

A gigaton of GHG emissions represents around 100 times the emissions generated by AT&T; the company’s global GHG footprint in 2019-2020 across all scopes was 10.42 million tonnes, according to its latest sustainability report.

AT&T is forging a series of partnerships to help deliver the emissions savings, badging this work as the ‘Connected Climate Initiative’. Among the initiative’s business members are major utility provider Duke Energy, digital infrastructure provider Equinix and tech giant Microsoft, which has its own goal to reach negative emissions by 2030 and remove the company’s historic emissions by 2050.

Key areas for emissions reductions will be providing businesses with smart technologies to help them improve energy and material efficiencies – for example, the provision of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to businesses in high-emitting sectors like transportation and energy. AT&T is also emphasizing the role that broadband technologies, including 5G, can have in improving energy efficiency.

AT&T has stated that it will work with universities and non-profits, as well as its business customers, to assess which solutions are the most impactful and to develop and scale new products and services. Universities already announced as Connected Climate Initiative members are the Texas A&M University and the University of Missouri.

“The time is now to expand our impact by developing and deploying more capabilities and solutions that enable companies to reduce their environmental footprint,” said AT&T Business’s chief executive Anne Chow. “This is a collective imperative across all business that also benefits the planet and society as a whole.”

AT&T first began measuring the emissions of its business customers – and the completed, in-process and further potentials for emissions reductions enabled by its solutions – in 2018, as part of a partnership with Carbon Trust. Over the course of two years, some 72 million metric tonnes of CO2e emissions were avoided.

The 2035 commitment has a 2018 baseline, meaning that reductions achieved over the past three years will be accounted for.

Corporate commitments to reduce or remove more emissions than those generated are becoming more common.

This spring, impact investor and consultancy Anthesis pledged to support projects that collectively avoid, reduce and remove three billion tonnes (three gigatons) of carbon by the end of the decade.

Similar pledges have been made by the likes of Walmart, which is aiming to help suppliers avoid a gigaton of emissions by 2030, and Capgemini, which is striving to help clients reduce their emissions by 500,000 tonnes of CO2e by 2030. This figure is 20 times higher than the firm’s own annual global climate footprint.

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Sarah George

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