O2 targets net-zero network and operations by 2025
Telecommunications giant O2 has pledged to achieve net-zero across its entire business and mobile network by 2025 - a move it claims will make it the UK's first net-zero mobile network provider.
Announced today (3 March), the commitment has covers O2’s Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (power-related) emissions.
Meeting the 2025 target will require O2 to work with landlords that support its network to switch to 100% renewable energy – given that the firm already uses 100% renewable energy in all operations and facilities where it has direct control of billing. The company has
O2 will also support the installation of energy efficiency measures and other “technical and energy transition solutions” across its owned facilities and those operated by third-party landlords. These measures will build on the progress of its network’s ‘smart turn-off’ function, which uses automation to automatically drop capacity when demand is low.
Once these energy processes are complete, O2 will address any residual direct emissions through offsetting, either via purchasing credits or by delivering its own schemes to help drive external decarbonisation. One of the largest of these schemes to date has been O2’s involvement in the UK’s national smart metering programme.
As for Scope 3 (indirect) emissions, emissions footprinting exercises have shown O2’s largest source of Scope 3 emissions to be through its upstream supply chain. To that end, O2 has set a new commitment to cut supply chain emissions by 30% by 2025. In order to achieve this reduction, the firm has said it will work to implement more ambitious targets for individual suppliers and create incentives that encourage suppliers to decarbonise their own operations. It will also share its best-practice learnings and draw ideas for future plans from its broader parent company, Telefonica Group.
O2 has notably already been certified to the highest possible level of supply chain management to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by Carbon Trust. Its largest suppliers are already contractually obliged to meet time-bound, numerical carbon reduction targets.
O2’s chief executive Mark Evans said the new targets will help the firm “go further and faster” on decarbonisation, building on its success in reducing operational carbon emissions by 80% between 2010 and 2015. Moreover, he would like the new targets to act as a “stake in the ground”, “setting the bar” for climate action in the wider UK telecommunications sector.
“Mobile can play a pivotal role to make our country more sustainable; from smart metering to smarter working,” Evans said. “O2 will work with suppliers, partners and customers to ensure that this industry plays its part in delivering a greener country for us all.”
O2’s announcement comes less than a week after the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and the GSMA 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 science-based pathway to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the sector has been approved by the Science-Based Target initiative (SBTi) in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C trajectory.
The organisers of the new pathway hope it will encourage more operators to follow suit, and support those with 2C-aligned Science-Based Targets to transition to 1.5C-aligned targets, in line with the recommendations of the IPCC.
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