The commitments are part of a GSMA-led climate initiative to develop a decarbonization pathway for mobile sector.
Many of the world’s largest mobile operator groups have agreed to start disclosing their climate impacts as part of a major new GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications Association, originally Groupe Spécial Mobile)-led initiative to develop a mobile industry climate action roadmap in line with the Paris Agreement.
More than 50 mobile operators — which together account for more than two-thirds of mobile connections globally[i] — are now disclosing their climate impacts, energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions via the CDP global disclosure system — a move that will enable full transparency for investors and customers involved in the mobile sector. Many of the companies are disclosing for the first time as part of the GSMA-led initiative.
GSMA operator members that are now disclosing via CDP include: América Móvil, AT&T Inc., Axiata Group, Bell Mobility Inc., Bharti Airtel, BT Group, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Chunghwa Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, DNA Plc, Elisa Corporation, Far EasTone, Globe Telecom, Inmarsat, KDDI Corporation, KPN, KT Corporation, LG Uplus, Magyar Telekom, Millicom International, MTN Group, MTS, NTT DOCOMO, Oi Móvel, Orange Group, Proximus, Reliance Jio, Rogers Communications, Singtel, SK Telecom, SoftBank Corp., Spark New Zealand, Sprint Corporation, StarHub, STC, Sunrise, Swisscom, T-Mobile USA, Taiwan Mobile, Tele2 AB, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telekom Austria, Telenor Group, Telia Company, Telkom SA, Telstra Corporation, TELUS Communications, TIM Brasil, True Corp., Turkcell, Verizon, Vodacom Group, Vodafone Group and Zain Group.
The disclosures form the first phase of an industry-wide, climate action roadmap. The next phase will see the development of a decarbonization pathway for the mobile industry, aligned with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), to be in place by February 2020. This will include the development of an industry-wide plan to achieve net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement.
The path to drawing down emissions
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“Today’s announcement marks the start of a collaborative action by the mobile industry to tackle the climate emergency, demonstrating how the private sector can show leadership and responsibility in addressing one of the gravest challenges facing our planet,” said Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA. “The mobile industry will form the backbone of the future economy and therefore has a unique opportunity to drive change across multiple sectors and in collaboration with our suppliers, investors and customers.”
“We welcome this move by the mobile sector to disclose its climate impacts via CDP, which demonstrates a clear step-up in commitment to providing transparency to its investors and customers as part of an industry-wide approach,” said CDP CEO Paul Simpson. “As a result of these disclosures, mobile operators will be able to measure and understand their environmental impact, helping them to build sustainability into the heart of their businesses.”
Setting the mobile industry’s science-based targets
The SBTi provides a transparent and effective framework for meeting the more ambitious Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°c by 2050, which would substantially reduce the risks and effects of climate change. However, there has been no methodology designed specifically for the mobile sector to date.
The new pathway under development will provide parameters to accelerate the rate at which mobile operators set their own targets, although the timescale at which individual companies reach the target will depend on a number of factors, including their geographic location and their ability to access renewable energy. It is expected that some companies will meet the net zero target significantly ahead of the 2050 deadline.
Mobilising the industry on climate action
The GSMA is working with participating operators and will be partnering with the international community, climate experts and third-party organizations to advance industry progress, establish best practices, and support disclosure and target setting.
The industry is also committed to advancing mobile technology innovations in areas such as big data and IoT that can enable energy-efficient and environmental solutions across multiple sectors — including transport, manufacturing, agriculture, building and energy.
The new initiative will be a major focus of the mobile industry’s presence at the UN General Assembly in New York City next week, and at the upcoming Mobile World Congress Americas event being held in Los Angeles next month.
This work forms part of the industry’s journey to support the delivery of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically SDG #13 on Climate Action, and its mission to intelligently connect everyone and everything to a #BetterFuture.
[i] Mobile operator groups participating in the initiative together account for approximately 5.2 billion mobile connections, representing 66 percent of the 7.8 billion total global mobile connections (excl. IoT) in Q2 2019 (source: GSMA Intelligence).