T-Mobile sets out science-based net-zero targets for 2040

The US-based telecommunications giant has pledged to reduce emissions across all scopes, including indirect (Scope 3) emissions, by 90% by 2040. It has set a 2020 baseline year for this target.

Scope 3 emissions covered by the target include those generated in the supply chain; those generated by customer device usage; materials and fuel needed to ship products and employee travel. These emissions represent around two-thirds of T-Mobile’s absolute annual carbon footprint.

The new commitment has been verified in line with the SBTi’s Net-Zero Standard, which requires firms to commit to a minimum of a 90% reduction in absolute value chain emissions by 2050 at the latest.

The Standard launched in late 2021 and T-Mobile believes it is the first US-based wireless firm to achieve verification. In verifying, it has joined the likes of tech firm Lenovo, luxury fashion brand Burberry and Firmenich, the world’s largest privately owned fragrance and taste company.

T-Mobile has also set out interim emissions goals for 2030, verified in line with the SBTi’s 1.5C temperature pathway. These entail reducing abolsute emissions across all scopes by 55% against a 2020 baseline.

In announcing these goals, T-Mobile has published a new ‘pathway’ report, detailing priority actions to reduce emissions across all scopes and setting out promises to report progress.

One priority is significantly improving energy efficiency. The firm has committed to achieving a 95% reduction in energy consumption per petabyte of data traffic on its network by 2030, against a 2019 baseline.

Another is maintaining 100% renewable electricity use and increasing the share of renewables sourced from self-generation and through power purchase agreements.

On Scope 3 emissions, the report touches on T-Mobile’s work to date to get suppliers to set their own SBTi-validated targets and its plans to expand this work.

“We hope companies like ours — and the partners and suppliers we work alongside — will join us in setting their own aggressive longer-term goals like these,” said T-Mobile’s chief executive Mike Sievert.

The report also includes commitments to certify new devices and packaging as lower-carbon and more resource-efficient, to address emissions associated with sold devices and packaging.

Climate Pledge

T-Mobile has also joined the Climate Pledge, orchestrated by e-commerce giant Amazon in partnership with Global Optimism.

The Pledge convenes almost 400 organisations, each of which has committed to achieving net-zero by 2040 at the latest.

Pledge members are also required to regularly report emissions – all greenhouse gases, not just carbon. They must prioritise decarbonisation over offsetting and, when using offsets, do so only to neutralise residual emissions. Offsets should result in “additional, quantifiable, real and permanent” emissions reductions or removals. They must also generate social benefits.

An investigative piece of journalism, published in the Guardian in January following nine months of work, claimed that more than 90% of offset credits for rainforest verified by the Verra standard are likely to be ‘phantom credits’ that generate no additional carbon reductions or removals.  Verra-certified credits are procured by corporates including Salesforce, BHP, Shell, Disney, Gucci, easyJet and Leon.

As expected, Verra has rebuffed some of the claims, and other players within the offsetting system have spoken out to either differentiate their projects or to support the system in general. But more seeds of distrust in offsetting have been planted. A separate piece of research published in January, following polling more than 500 senior sustainability professionals, found that 41% are not procuring carbon credits for their organisation due to a lack of trust.

Register now for edie’s next webinars focused on supply chain sustainability

Readers interested in learning how to measure and reduce their Scope 3 emissions, working with suppliers on climate-related issues, are encouraged to register for edie’s next online event. 

This free event will take place on Wednesday 15 February 2023 and will explore how best to create more sustainable, resilient, equitable and responsible supply chains. We have experts from BSI and Carbon Quota, our sponsors for this event, lined up to speak, and will be announcing more speakers in due course. Click here for a full agenda and to register.

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