BT sets 87% carbon reduction target to help meet Paris Agreement goals

After reaching a carbon target four years ahead of schedule, BT is setting itself on the path to help limit global warming to 1.5C through a new science-based target to reduce emissions by 87% by 2030 against a 2016/17 baseline.

BT unveiled the target this morning (12 September), after revealing that it had achieved a target set in 2008 to reduce carbon emissions by 80%. The 80% target was set against a 1996 baseline, and BT reached the goal for years early.

Working with the Science-Based Targets Initiative, BT is targeting an 87% reduction by 2030. The target is aligned with the aim of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming by 1.5C by the end of the century.

BT’s chief sustainability officer, Niall Dunne, said: “The role that technology can play in creating a more resource efficient world is both profound and exciting. The benefits of leading climate action extend to our customers, suppliers and people. Our commitment to this 1.5°C target will help create partnerships and coalitions that continue the unstoppable momentum enabled by the Paris agreement.”

More than 200 companies are signed-up to the Science-Based Targets Initiative, although many of those companies have set carbon reduction targets in line with the 2C aspirations of the Paris Agreement.

To meet its new target, BT will seek innovative ways to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels, and is exploring the adoption of low-carbon vehicles into its fleet. The telecoms giant will also target the carbon intensity of its buildings.

Trustworthy partnership

BT has worked with the Carbon Trust over the last two decades to help set and deliver against its science-based targets. Partnerships like this have helped BT introduce step changes, such as extending a commitment to renewable energy with an ambition to #go100percent worldwide by 2020, and scaling the Better Future Supplier Forum to help suppliers with an online sustainability assessor.

The Carbon Trust’s chief executive Tom Delay added: “Over the past two decades BT has made impressive progress in reducing carbon emissions. To continue this journey, our recent work together has mapped out the steps the business will need to take over the coming decades to become a truly low carbon business.

“The ambition contained within the Paris Agreement gives us hope that we might avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change. If we are going to deliver on this ambition then this is exactly the sort of leadership we need to see.”

BT has made progress on its wider energy programme, including delivering £221m in energy savings since 2009. BT’s 100% renewable aspirations currently stand at 82%. In addition, BT is attempting to reduce customer emissions by at least three times its own end-to-end carbon impact. So far, the ratio is at 1.8 and has helped customers avoid 10 million tonnes of carbon in 2016 alone.

As part of the 3:1 goal, BT’s consumer operations and products that contribute to carbon savings now represent 22% of the company’s annual revenue and are worth £5.3bn.

Matt Mace

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