COP26: The role of connectivity in accelerating the race to net-zero

This week is the start of the United Nations Climate Change conference, COP26, which is bringing together world leaders and global businesses to talk about the biggest threat that is facing the planet: the climate crisis.

COP26: The role of connectivity in accelerating the race to net-zero

The conference in Glasgow is being billed as the last opportunity for nations to commit to action which limits global temperatures from rising by 1.5 degrees to prevent catastrophic climate events that will change our way of life forever.

The outcome of these talks is crucial: they have will have a direct impact on the planet, as well as the lives of generations to come.

Climate & Connectivity

Last month, the Government announced its Net Zero strategy – a roadmap setting out how the country will achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

While we welcome the commitments set out in the Government’s plan, we also know that digital connectivity can be a driving force in accelerating the race to net-zero carbon emissions. That’s why we’re on a mission to help reimagine the role of connectivity in building a greener future.

A connected Britain can support large-scale decarbonisation; we’re already seeing the evidence every day: from taking cars off the road through remote working, to powering smarter homes, transport, and businesses.

That’s why we want to see policymakers champion the role of digital connectivity and put it at the heart of the UK’s net-zero plans.

Tech’s role in creating a cleaner future, faster

Virgin Media O2 is committed to using the power of connectivity and technology to create a low carbon future, going faster to tackle our own emissions, and leveraging the enabling role of our technology to help our customers reduce their emissions, too.

We’ve set a goal to achieve net-zero carbon in our operations (Scopes 1 & 2) by 2025 – with a full value chain target to follow. We’re also helping our customers to reduce their impact on the planet. For example, since 2009, our O2 Recycle scheme has recycled around 3.3 million devices and almost 95% is refurbished and reused – with zero going to landfill.

We’ve also seen how advancements in connectivity and digital technology can directly help businesses to decarbonise; from enabling flexible working and the digital workplace, to the efficiencies driven by the Internet of Things, connectivity can cut emissions.

5G is also a game changer: our Greener Connected Future report found that 5G connectivity across key sectors such as transport, utilities and home energy, manufacturing and healthcare, could help them avoid 269 megatonnes of CO2 by 2035.

Connectivity at COP26

At COP26, we’re partnering with the GSMA to showcase the role of mobile connectivity in creating cleaner transport through our Connected & Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) trials.

We’ve converted two electric Renault TWIZY electric vehicles into CAVs and have been trialling them on the lab tracks at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire. The testing vehicles – powered by our 5G network – are fitted with LIDAR sensors so they can be controlled remotely.  Our lightning-fast connectivity helps to cut carbon emissions by reducing idling and acceleration rates, and it can enable the vehicle to take smarter routes by avoiding polluted areas.

In addition, the vehicle telematics technology used by CAVs can provide businesses with access to real-time vehicle and driver information. It means that fleet managers and vehicle leasing companies can gather essential insights for faster, more informed decisions, helping them to cut CO2 emissions with optimised routes and improved driver behaviour.

Furthermore, 5G coupled with data insights can enable ‘smart cities’ which can help tackle air pollution, helping local authorities pinpoint congested transport routes and areas with dangerous levels of pollution. In turn, this can help encourage residents and businesses to make greener choices.

The future

These are just some of the examples of the pivotal role connectivity and technology can play in helping to decarbonise the UK. And this is just the beginning.

Our role in tackling the climate crisis doesn’t stop once the COP26 conference wraps up in two weeks’ time. Climate change requires urgent and long-term action, and we’re in this for the long haul.

We’ll continue to harness the power of our fixed and mobile networks to support the country, our customers and the communities we serve to live more sustainable lives, helping to make the promise of a net-zero future a reality.  

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