Race to Zero: One third of mobile industry now comitted to credible 2050 net zero goals – www.businessgreen.com
The mobile industry is responsible for 0.4% of global carbon emissions
UN-backed initiative says mobile sector is first to hit crucial ‘tipping point’ that is expected to catalyse industry-wide systems change
The UN Race to Zero campaign has announced that over a third of the mobile industry by revenue has now committed to credible net zero emissions targets by 2050 or earlier, marking a major breakthrough for the global effort to build a net zero emission economy.
Thirty-six per cent of the mobile industry by revenue and 31 per cent by connections have “credibly committed” to net zero emissions by mid-century or earlier, according to a report published this week by mobile industry association GSMA, which is working with the Race to Zero campaign to accelerate climate action across the sector.
Vodafone Group, EE, Telus, T-Mobile US, Verizon Wireless, Swisscom, and Orange Group are among the mobile operators that make up the Race to Zero’s ‘ambition cohort’ for the sector, it said.
The achievement makes the mobile industry the first to hit a critical 20 per cent “tipping point” that campaigners hope can spur the systems-wide transformation necessary to build a net zero emissions economy, the Race to Zero said. The initiative is aiming to help 10 high profile industries reach this level of “breakthrough ambition” ahead of the crucial COP26 Climate Summit this autumn in a bid to create a critical mass of support for the net zero transition across the global business community. The hope is that once a fifth of the leading players in an industry have delivered credible net zero transition plans and stepped up investment in support of their goals it will ramp up competitive and investor pressure on the rest of a sector to follow suit.
Nigel Topping, UN high level climate champion for COP26, toasted the mobile industry’s achievement and urged other sectors to ramp up their climate commitments. “The mobile sector has shown us what real sectoral climate ambition can look like – and I hope the rest of the world is taking note,” he said. “We need to see this level of climate ambition across every sector of the global economy if we are to deliver a zero-carbon world in time.”
The announcement comes just weeks after 13 major European telecommunications firms, including Vodafone, Nokia, Ericcson, and Orange, collectively pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2040 as part of the launch of the European Green Digital Coalition. Those announcements came less than a month after MTN, one of Africa’s largest mobile operators, similarly announced plans to achieve a 47 per cent reduction in absolute emissions by the end of this decade and achieve net zero 10 years later.
GMSA director general Mats Granryd emphasised the mobile sector had a role to play in helping other sectors slash their emissions by helping companies around the world digitalise their operations.
“The mobile sector clearly demonstrates that, when at least 20 per cent of a market moves, change accelerates,” he said. “Our ambition goes beyond our own sector, as we help other industries reduce their carbon emissions through the use of mobile and network services for their digital transformation.”
The GMSA’s report also highlights that nearly two thirds of the mobile industry has set science-based carbon reduction targets to deliver significant emissions reductions this decade.
A study published last year by the GMSA and Carbon Trust estimated the mobile industry has the potential to slash global emissions of carbon dioxide by four per cent by enabling behaviour change and delivering smart connected technologies. These emissions savings are roughly 10 times larger than the industry’s direct emissions, which are equivalent to roughly 0.4 per cent of global carbon emissions.
The latest news came as US mobile company Verizon announced it had significantly ramped up its climate ambition, announcing a raft of new science-based climate targets and a fresh carbon avoidance goal.
The firm has pledged to reduce its operational emissions by 53 per cent on 2019 levels by the end of the decade and reduce its value chain emissions by 40 per cent by 2035. It has also vowed to help avoid 20 million metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually by 2030 through its solutions, noting that in 2020 it helped customers avoid 12 million metric tonnes of CO2.
The targets come less than two years after the US firm, which was among the first companies to sign up to Amazon’s Climate Pledge initiative which commits firms to achieving net zero by 2040, committed to achieving net zero operational emissions by 2035 and generate half its electricity from renewable energy by 2025.
“Sustainability is in Verizon’s DNA, and we’re committed to doing our part to reduce our environmental impact,” said James Gowen, Verizon’s chief sustainability officer and senior vice president for supply chain operations. “Our climate commitments and goals are ambitious, but the steps we’re taking now to reduce our carbon emissions and invest in renewable energy will help us become net zero in our operations by 2035.”