Chief Digital Impact and Sustainability Officer, BT Group
The fight against climate change needs a more connected approach, with calls from the telecoms sector to work with other businesses and consumers to reach emissions reduction targets.
Businesses are now realising that they don’t have to make a trade-off between cutting their carbon emissions and turning a profit. “Over the last 15 years, companies have made some big emissions reduction commitments,” says Andy Wales, Chief Digital Impact and Sustainability Officer, BT Group.
Take BT, an early leader on climate action. It set one of the world’s first carbon reduction targets in 1992 and plans to cut its carbon emissions by 87% by March 2031.
Our fixed and mobile networks will shape the way we all live, work and move – supporting everything from home-working, the development of smart cities, the Internet of things and helping to build smart climate solutions.
As part of its strategy, it has pledged to become a net zero emissions business by 2045 and is working to reduce its supply chain emissions by 42% by 2030. The company is now using 100% renewable electricity worldwide and wants to electrify 28,000 of its 33,000 vehicles by 2030.
Wales adds “Together with the Climate Group and 29 organisations, we launched the UK Electric Fleets Coalition. We’ve campaigned for an end to new petrol and diesel vehicles sales by 2030 and we want to make sure the right policies are in place to support the mass adoption of electric vehicles.”
All of which is hugely positive, says Wales; but businesses can’t fight climate change in isolation. Others need to step up to the plate — and, when they get there, be prepared to collaborate.
Helping consumers to cut emissions
But it’s not only businesses that need to make these commitments, consumers can also play a role. Wales says: “Our fixed and mobile networks will shape the way we all live, work and move – supporting everything from home-working, the development of smart cities, the Internet of things and helping to build smart climate solutions.”
“Smaller actions can be taken more immediately,” he says, “such as turning the heating down a degree and using smart sensors to manage light, water, heating and appliances. As an organisation we’re here to help support consumers make more conscious consumer choices.”
Overall, Wales is optimistic that companies and consumers understand the seriousness of this issue, and points to the significance of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow later this year. “It’s a focal point for committed countries, cities and states — but also for companies who are working with their suppliers and customers to drive to net zero together. We need to accelerate that collaboration to address the challenges we face.”