BT generates record £5.5bn through carbon-combative products and services

Telecommunications giant BT generated almost one-quarter (23.4%) of its total annual 2018 revenue through selling products and services which contribute to carbon savings at a consumer level, the business has revealed.

BT’s efforts to reduce emissions and combat climate change span more than 20 years

BT’s efforts to reduce emissions and combat climate change span more than 20 years

The figures, published as part of BT’s latest Digital Impact and Sustainability report, show that the revenue the company generated through carbon-combative products last year was £5.5bn, up from £5.3bn in 2017.

According to the report, BT products and services helped customers cut their carbon emissions by 11.7 million tonnes during 2018, largely through energy efficiency improvements and a greater dependence on renewable energy.

This marks a 200,000-tonne increase on its 2017 figure and comes as the company is striving to help customers collectively cut their emissions by three times the company's own end-to-end emissions. The 3:1 ambition currently sits at a ratio of 2.6:1, up from 2.4:1 last year.

Commenting on this progress, BT’s head of environmental sustainability Gabrielle Giner said: “Climate action makes sense for business and through our people, products and services we’ve been able to take some dramatic steps towards tackling one of society’s biggest challenges.”

Giner previously told edie that the 3:1 ambition had been influenced by a flexible and highly innovative supply chain.

A net-zero future

The report is the first to be published by BT since the firm set a net-zero carbon target for its own operations last autumn in the wake of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) landmark report on global warming.

With an end date of 2045, the ambition builds on BT’s science-based target for 2030, which is aligned with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C trajectory and requires BT to reduce emissions by 87% by 2030 against a 2016/17 baseline.

A key facet in reaching this net-zero goal, the new report states, will be switching BT’s electricity to 100% renewables worldwide – a feat the company hopes to achieve by 2020. It notably purchases 1% of all electricity sold in the UK and, while it has shifted to 100% clean power for its UK operations, its global energy mix was 87% renewables in 2018.

The report states that the remaining 13% of BT’s energy mix can be accounted for by “transitioning accounts” or is procured in countries “where there’s no renewable supply, the energy can’t be certified as renewable by an internationally recognised scheme, or where our landlords buy non-renewable electricity in buildings [it occupies].” Nonetheless, the company maintains that it is on track for its 2020 goal.

Other notable steps which BT is taking on the pathway to its science-based target and net-zero goal include transitioning fleets to low-emission vehicles and decarbonising its building portfolio. But according to Giner, action is now needed from policymakers to ensure that businesses on their own low-carbon transitions "can make the most of the positive momentum being generated". 

Giner's statement comes as the UK Government is deciding whether to adopt the Committee on Climate Change's (CCC) advice on legislating for a net-zero carbon economy by 2050, in line with the IPCC's recommendations. Las week, a Government spokesperson said that a decision on the CCC’s recommendation will be made "in a timeframe which reflects the urgency of the issue". 

Sarah George



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