Science-based pathway for net-zero emissions established for telecoms sector

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and the GSMA have forged a new partnership to develop a sector-specific decarbonisation pathway that will outline how all companies in the mobile sector can set science-based targets.

The initiative forms part of the GSMA’s climate action roadmap for the industry, which has already seen operators disclose impacts via CDP

The initiative forms part of the GSMA’s climate action roadmap for the industry, which has already seen operators disclose impacts via CDP

The science-based pathway to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the sector has been approved by the Science-Based Target initiative (SBTi). It outlines emissions reduction trajectories that would be required for mobile, fixed and data centre operators that would align companies to the 1.5C target of the Paris Agreement.

The pathway has been developed by GSMA, which has more than 750 mobile operates as full members, in partnership with GeSI and the ITU.

“Today’s landmark agreement underlines how the ICT sector is taking urgent and unprecedented action in response to the climate emergency,” GSMA’s director general Mats Granryd said.

 “The mobile industry is one of the first major sectors in the world to voluntarily set an SBT for emissions reductions. Our sector will form the backbone to the future global economy and has a unique role to play in reaching a net-zero economy. A decarbonised world will be a digital world, so we must show leadership and take responsibility for driving positive climate action.” 

Already, 29 operators accounting for 30% of global mobile connections have committed to science-based targets, including, BT, Orange, T Mobile, Telefonica, Vodafone and Verizon. The association groups believe that many others will now be able to set targets.

A joint report produced by the GSMA and the Carbon Trust found that mobile technology use enabled a global reduction in emissions of more than 2,100 million tonnes in 2018 – savings that were almost 10 times greater than the global carbon footprint of the mobile industry alone.

The GSMA is also launching a Climate Toolkit for operators offering guidance. Through the new pathway initiative, companies that wish to set science-based targets must do so for combined Scope 1 and 2 emissions, with additional guidance on offer for Scope 3.

The initiative forms part of the GSMA’s climate action roadmap for the industry, which has already seen operators disclose impacts via CDP. BT Group and Vodafone Group are among a coalition of 50+ mobile operators that have since agreed to do so.

In 2018, 6,937 companies reported through CDP. Data reported through this platform is used by more than 525 investors globally – a group which, collectively, manages $96trn in assets.

Matt Mace



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