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AT&T to Enable Carbon Savings 10 Times the Footprint of Its Operations by 2025

On November 18, telecommunications company AT&T announced goals for 2025. The goals represent the company’s first long-term roadmap for its citizenship and sustainability work, and focus on three areas: networks and customers, supply chain, and communities.

The three corresponding goals for 2025 are:

  • Enable carbon savings 10 times the footprint of the company’s operations;
  • Collaborate to transform the environmental and social impact of technology supply chains; and
  • Team up with stakeholders to close the skills gap, by increasing the number of Americans with post-secondary degrees or credentials to 60 percent.

AT&T says the goals are intentionally somewhat flexible to accommodate the world’s changes over the next decade. For example, the carbon savings goal is based on the company’s 2025 footprint. The company intends to continuously measure its impact and “build out a flexible measurement methodology;” they have plans to collaborate with industry peers to establish a relevant, meaningful framework.

“We want to work with other companies and experts to create a methodology for measurement, especially regarding our carbon savings goal. We are looking to make an impact beyond our own company. That’s part of why it’s a long-term goal, and an exciting challenge since nothing like it exists yet,” explained Jenny Robertson, Director of Sustainability, AT&T. “We also know that a methodology built on industry expertise and stakeholder consensus is more meaningful than what we can produce on our own. It helps ensure apples-to-apples measurements and fosters collaboration.”

The long-term goals will serve as guidelines for the company’s actions amidst the changing technology and sustainability landscapes. To achieve them, the company will have to continuously progress toward and refine their targets.

“Under each of the goals we set supporting targets to guide us along the way. The targets may evolve as our company itself evolves, and we intend for our goals platform to accommodate evolutions,” said Robertson.

For example, the company recognizes that minimizing the impact of its operations will be important in reaching their carbon savings goal, so it set an interim target to reduce the company’s direct emissions by 20 percent by 2020 based on a 2008 baseline. Other more specific targets include integrating sustainability performance metrics into sourcing decisions for 80 percent of company spend by 2020, and investing an additional $250 million by 2017 in education-related initiatives.

At the same time, AT&T will need to fulfil its pledges to enhance network efficiency and deliver low-carbon customer solutions.

“Low-carbon solutions are products and services we can provide to help enable our customers – at both enterprise and consumer levels – reduce their carbon impact on the planet,” continued Robertson. “Think smarter supply chains that can help companies know the location temperature and condition of materials in transit, smarter water pipes that can detect small leaks before they become big leaks, soil sensors that help farmers more efficiently water, fertilize and harvest.”

Other low-carbon solutions include products and services that reduce water or energy use, facilitate the transition to ‘smart cities,’ or otherwise help enable customers reduce their carbon footprint.

“As the information and communication technology (ICT) sector grows, it has a particularly crucial role to play in addressing its own sustainability impacts and in using its products to power global progress,” Dunstan Allison-Hope, Managing Director, Advisory Services, BSR, said in AT&T’s press release. “Long-term company goals are vital to address the ICT sector’s biggest sustainability challenges and opportunities, and AT&T’s new goals represent a leap forward in the company’s efforts to enable a sustainable future.”