Carbon neutral path analysis of leading global operators



Controlling global warming is in the common interest of all mankind. More and more economies have proposed the vision of a carbon-free future and set the goal of carbon neutrality. Telecom business is an important initiator and participant in the development of global technology and industry. On the one hand, operators not only have a large space for emission reduction, but also can give full play to their ict advantages and digital service capabilities to enable traditional industries to achieve green transformation. On the other hand, the layout of carbon neutrality is related to the long-term development of telecom operators. Currently, overseas trade attaches great importance to the carbon emission standards of partners, and the process of carbon neutrality of enterprises directly affects the participation of global trade.



As a result, carbon neutrality has become a key deployment goal for global operators. AT&T, for example, has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 37% in 2020 from 2015 through its Solutions program, which enables business customers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 1 billion tons by 2035. Telefonica avoided 9.5 million tons of carbon emissions in 2020, three times as much as in 2019, by providing these services. Other operators, including Verizon, Vodafone, Orange, BT, NTT, KDDI, KT, SKT have set a clear carbon neutral goals and implementation plan. As the European Union and the United States started carbon neutrality or carbon emissions earlier, operators in Europe and the United States are more perfect in the top-level design of carbon neutrality planning system, realizing carbon neutrality earlier than operators in Asia, and achieving more significant phased implementation results.



Development Path Analysis
International operators to promote the implementation of carbon neutral achieved good results, has been clear about the main charges dry enterprise around carbon neutral environment and energy vision, formed a relatively perfect, systematic framework of guidelines, including the design, the middle layer to the upper target strategy and innovation as well as the underlying organizational guarantee and publicity system effective implementation.



1.Set scientific emission reduction targets, progress and measurement methods. According to the internationally accepted carbon accounting method, in addition to setting a clear net zero emission target, international operators also adopt multi-dimensional measurement and evaluation based on stage target setting, energy efficiency in specific fields and carbon emission intensity indicators. Vodafone and Verizon use carbon emissions generated per petabyte of mobile data and per terabyte of network data as carbon intensity indicators.



2.Develop innovative new environmental and energy technologies to reduce emissions. Network equipment, IDC room and enterprise buildings are heavy energy consumers of operators and the most important areas of energy conservation and emission reduction. In addition to some conventional methods to improve energy efficiency, such as installing energy-saving equipment and optimizing cooling systems, international leading operators actively layout and make breakthroughs in innovative research and application of new energy-saving technologies. NTT has launched the IOWN program to integrate optical technology into signal processing research and development to build the communications infrastructure of the future by breaking through current technological limitations and dramatically reducing the power consumption of computers and networks.



3.Actively cooperate with upstream and downstream of the industrial chain to build green ecology. On the one hand, international operators insist on green procurement regulations of suppliers and require their cooperation and commitment to relevant emission reduction targets. BT, for example, has 12 major suppliers that have a clause in their commercial contracts that commits them to measurable carbon reductions.



4.Product design and innovation to increase resource recycling. It is a key measure for international leading operators to promote resource conservation to develop circular economy and build a system of resource recycling and waste material recycling. In order to get rid of the traditional linear economy and reduce the consumption and use of resources, 0range has moved the consideration of resource consumption and waste treatment to the stage of product development and design, so as to realize energy conservation and emission reduction from the source. It has set the development goal of 100% ecological design for 0range brand products by 2025.



5.Promote the purchase and self-investment development of renewable energy. Saving 300 tonnes of plastic electricity for every 100 million SIM cards is the single biggest contributor to telecom operators' carbon emissions, so leading international operators have identified support for renewable energy and the transition to a greener grid as key factors for achieving carbon neutrality in the future.



6.To expand sustainable green financing channels in the form of bonds, in order to raise more funds for the purchase and development of new energy and the r&d and promotion of energy-saving and emissions-reduction technologies, more and more international operators have joined the ranks of green bond issuance and established sustainable financing channels for green development through unified issuance of green bonds. Verizon was the first U.S. telecom company to issue green bonds, fully allocating nearly $1 billion of net proceeds from the first tranche in 2020 and issuing a third tranche of $1 billion in September 2021.



7.The management organization and mechanism guarantee suitable for carbon neutrality strategy. Refers to the negotiable securities issued by the issuer in accordance with the law to raise funds to support green industry and repay the principal and interest according to the agreement. The establishment of a high-level management organization to guide the green development strategic planning or plan, and the implementation of publicity and training at the lower level are the basic guarantee for the effective implementation of carbon neutrality for international operators. In terms of organizational support, KDDI has incorporated environmental sustainability into its business operations and established an environmental management system (EMS) centered on an environmental subcommittee.



Suggestions for Telecom Operators
Drawing on the rich experience of leading international operators, Chinese operators should not only take the research and implementation of carbon neutrality as necessary to fulfill their social responsibilities, but also become the internal driving force to achieve their own efficient and sustainable development, and pay attention to it.



1.Target formulation: carbon emission targets in three areas should be calculated according to the internationally accepted carbon accounting methods, and emission reduction measures should be deployed in a targeted manner. Several phased emission reduction targets and emission reduction targets in specific fields should be designed and formulated, and corresponding effective assessment mechanisms should be matched to stimulate the realization of the targets.



2.Implementation strategy: referring to the ideas of international operators, carbon neutral development path should start from two general directions. One is multi-field and multi-path reduction of carbon emissions. In the emission reduction of network equipment, IDC, buildings and other large energy consumption households, energy saving technology innovation should be strengthened, and efforts should be made to break through the limitations of current technology to achieve technological energy saving; At the same time, pay attention to the development of circular economy and build a green ecology of industrial development. Second, promote the development and application of renewable energy. On the basis of their own energy conservation and emission reduction, operators should learn from international operators to achieve carbon neutrality by purchasing power through long-term agreements, investing in green energy, and purchasing environmental rights and interests. Actively use green financing means to obtain sustainable green project input.



3.Mechanism guarantee: the importance of carbon neutrality should match the high-level leadership organization, and the overall management of strategic planning, implementation plan and effect evaluation should be carried out. Finally, it is necessary to ensure the internal consensus on the implementation process of carbon neutral development, do a good job in publicizing policies and sharing knowledge among employees, and build a low-carbon culture.

Reference: China Mobile

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