BT Group has announced plans to curb its carbon emissions sooner than planned, by bringing forward its net zero target from 2045 to 2030 for its own operational emissions and 2040 for its supply chain and customer emissions.
The new target comes as a landmark UN climate report has warned that global heating is irreversible, with its starkest warning yet that urgent action is needed to reduce emissions.
The company which has led on climate action for 30 years has pledged to cut the emissions intensity of its business by 87% by the end of March 2031 and has set targets in line with the most ambitious aim of the COP21 Paris Agreement – linking its targets to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
Since 2016 BT has reduced the carbon emissions intensity of its operations by 57% and has reduced supply chain emissions by 19% over the same timeframe.
In 2020, the company announced that it had completed the switch to 100% renewable electricity worldwide and pledged to transition the majority of its 33,000 strong commercial fleet to electric or zero carbon emissions vehicles by 2030.
To meet these new ambitious targets, BT will work closely with its customers and suppliers, and will press ahead with plans to retire legacy networks such as the 3G mobile network by 2023 and the public switched telephone network (PSTN) by the end of 2025. Any residual emissions will be covered by high quality carbon offsets, which the company will invest in.
The company believes that continued innovation in products and services alongside the roll out of full fibre broadband to 25 million homes and businesses by December 2026 and the offer of high performance 5G solutions across the entire UK by 2028 will help underpin many of the innovative solutions needed to achieve a net zero carbon economy.
Sparking a conversation
With a customer base of 30 million households and one million SMEs, BT believes that it is well placed to help its customers and the wider general public cut emissions.
A recent study carried out by the company found that despite climate change being the third most important issue for people after mental and physical health, almost half believed that they were incapable of tackling climate change.
However, BTs Smarter Living Challenge found that when households were given the tools and techniques to tackle their own emissions, they could make a huge difference. In some cases saving up to £938 and up to 1.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) if actions were sustained over a year.
The BT Big Sofa Summit
In a bid to get the UK talking about the environment and to demonstrate how small lifestyle changes and smart tech can be used to help aid the fight against climate change, BT is launching its Big Sofa Summit.
The company will provide free practical advice, tips and resources on the small steps everyone can take to cut household emissions. To help, BT has teamed up with some familiar faces including presenter, actress and singer Kimberley Walsh plus Jordan Banjo and Perri Kiely from Bafta award winning dance troupe Diversity, who will hold their own sofa summit.
Andy Wales, Chief Digital Impact & Sustainability Officer at BT Group said: “As the world looks to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, we must remember that the global climate emergency hasn’t gone away. BT is committed to climate action and today’s announcement will see us not just deliver on our public commitments to date but exceed them.
“Getting our own ‘BT’ house in order isn’t enough though. We must broaden the conversation around climate change by getting households up and down the country talking about it and helping them understand what they can do to help. That’s why I’d encourage all of our customers, colleagues and communities to get involved, by holding their own Sofa Summit, looking at the small, sustainable changes they can make.”
The company also announced today that it had joined The Climate Pledge – a commitment, co-founded by Amazon and Global Optimism in 2019 on the conviction that global businesses are responsible, accountable, and able to act on the climate crisis. Signatories of The Climate Pledge agree to three principal areas of action including; regular reporting, carbon elimination and neutralising any remaining emissions with real, permanent and socially-beneficial offsets to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040.
BT’s commitment to reducing its carbon intensity will help the UK Government meet its target of net zero emissions by 2050. The company is also calling on companies to take similar steps, setting their own ambitious but realistic net zero targets for 2050 at the latest and by engaging with their customers, colleagues and supply chains about climate change, what it means for them and what they can do to make a difference.