Telecoms industry agrees decarbonisation strategy

decarbonisation strategy

The GSMA has agreed a Science-Based Target (SBT) and has a clear sense of direction on how to decrease Green House Gas (GHG) emissions in the telecoms sector, with target of achieving industry wide ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by the year 2050. 

The recently announced SBT is a product of the teamwork between the GSMA, the ITU and numerous other big sector acronyms and has the intention of creating a sector-specific decarbonisation route for the entire industry.

This basically means that information communication technology companies will be able to set targets that are in line with the latest developments in climate science. Included in the plans are emission reduction trajectories for mobile, fixed and data center operators to meet the ambitious Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°c, designed to dramatically decrease the risks and effects of climate change.

How does it work?

The GSMA has said that the SBT sets emissions trajectory reductions over the decade (2020-2030) for each sub sector of ICT. As an example, mobile network operators that adopt the SBT will be required to reduce their emissions by at the very least 45% over this time scale.

The GSMA states: “the switch to renewable and low-carbon electricity is expected to account for the bulk of reductions over this period, alongside efforts by operators to become more energy efficient. Access to renewable energy, which can vary widely depending on an operator’s geographic location is, therefore, a key factor determining an operator’s ability to meet the SBT.”

The GSMA has said that this announcement comes as a part of its climate action roadmap for the mobile and telecoms industry under which operators unveil their climate impacts, energy, and emissions then work on addressing the specific targets that they need to meet to reduce their carbon emissions.

The GSMA has also claimed that the industry is dedicated to advancing mobile innovations and technology in areas like big data and IoT which can create and develop more efficient and environmentally friendly solutions over multiple industries. This includes transport, manufacturing, agriculture, building and energy.

One of the latest reports produced by the GSMA and the Carbon Trust has worked out that the use of mobile technology has allowed for a global reduction in emissions of approximately 2,135 million tons of CO2 in 2018. Emissions savings were almost tem times higher than that of the global carbon footprint of the mobile and telecoms industry.  

However, before we get excited, there is no indication that operators will be able to include the savings from other sectors that are using their technology, against their own targets. There may possibly be a case for this, but nothing as of yet. However, as an industry it is all very well to agree to a target because if questioned, they have some form of defense – that the industry is following targets that are suggested by science based research. But will Net Zero by 2050 prove to be enough to hit these targets? The good thing about it is that STB can adapt and change as the science and experience behind it evolves.