Sunday, 05 July 2020

Telefonica slashes emissions targets by 20 years in new push to go green

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Wednesday 10 June 20

Announced alongside World Environment Day on Friday, the new target will see the operator’s main businesses reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2030

The true impact of the coronavirus pandemic will not be understood for many years. Once the outbreak began, it had swept the world in a matter of months, disrupting every facet of our day-to-day lives. One of the most challenging things about the COVID-19 pandemic was its rapid and unexpected nature, forcing businesses to pivot rapidly to deal with this new existential threat…

The true impact of the coronavirus pandemic will not be understood for many years. Once the outbreak began, it had swept the world in a matter of months, disrupting every facet of our day-to-day lives. One of the most challenging things about the COVID-19 pandemic was its rapid and unexpected nature, forcing businesses to pivot rapidly to deal with this new existential threat. 

But there is another, perhaps even greater, threat on the horizon, and this one is well known: climate change. 
 
Environmentalism has long been a pet project for the telecoms sector, with most telcos having carbon-neutral goals for some time in the fairly distant future. BT’s target, for example, is 2045, while Vodafone wants to half its emissions by 2025 (though achieving carbon neutrality is set for 2050). 
 
Telefonica, however, has just slashed its environmental goals for its main markets – Germany, Spain, Brazil and the UK – saying they are on track to achieve net zero emissions by 2030, a full two decades ahead of their previously stated target.  
 
The announcement came alongside World Environment Day 2020, with Telefonica COO Ángel Vilá noting that the coronavirus pandemic had highlighted the importance of not only connectivity, but also environmental responsibility.
 
“A balanced planet is important for everything, starting with health,” said Vilá. “Thinking about the day after, we have the opportunity to build a new present and a better future, a more sustainable one.”
 
Vilá highlighted Telefonica’s support of the Race to Zero campaign, a coalition of net zero initiatives  created by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as announcing that Telefonica had achieved a 50% drop in carbon emissions in 2019.
 
For now at least, it is wishful thinking that the telecoms industry can be truly green. Supporting global connectivity around the world takes a lot of power, not to mention the greenhouse gases emitted from staff travel and other more mundane sources. However, advances in technology are happening all the time and increased digitalisation opens the door for huge reductions in emissions.
 
If the telecoms industry can continue to break their own targets and accelerate their environmental goals, as Telefonica has done, the industry can surely make a big impact in the battle against climate change.
 
 
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