Mobile industry commitments to science-based targets and net zero also growing strongly as operators seek to decarbonise
28th February 2023, Barcelona: The GSMA’s annual Mobile Net Zero report, released today, revealed that mobile operators are making tangible gains in the drive towards net zero, with nearly a quarter of the industry’s electricity globally now being purchased from renewable sources. This represents a meaningful uplift from 14% in 2020 and 18% in 2021.
The report, published annually by the GSMA to track the mobile industry’s progress towards net zero, also demonstrates how operators are working to improve energy efficiency across their footprint, investing in 5G – which enables higher bandwidths with lower power usage per bit delivered – retiring power-hungry legacy networks and investing in electric vehicle fleets.
In addition, the report details the intent shown by players across the industry, including major handset and equipment suppliers such as Apple and Samsung, to make supply chains more sustainable by using recycled content, more renewable electricity in manufacture, extending the lifetime of devices and supporting repair and recycling. Such actions from the ecosystem are essential, as the majority of mobile operators’ emissions come from their supply chain.
To date, in a unique industry-wide move, 62 operators, representing 61% of the industry by revenue and 46% by connections, have committed to science-based targets intended to rapidly reduce their direct and indirect carbon emissions by 2030; an increase of 12 operators since 2022.
Such commitments are significant as they require operators to transition to 100% renewable electricity, move away from use of diesel generators, electrify their vehicle fleets and engage their suppliers. A large proportion of operators have also committed to net zero targets by 2050 or earlier, accounting for 39% of mobile connections and 43% of global revenue.
John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer for the GSMA, said: “The environmental and financial benefits of climate action are clear to the mobile industry. Mobile operators are staking a leadership position on climate, and with nearly 25% of all electricity used by our sector now coming from renewable sources, moving beyond target setting to demonstrable action.
“The digital transitions is a powerful enabler of a more sustainable economy. Achieving it will require stronger collaboration between governments and the private sector on all fronts. It is important to recognize the impact that government policies and regulations can have on operators’ ability to invest in and deploy more energy efficient networks. Moreover, there is clearly a role for governments to play in accelerating the transition to clean energy in their markets by creating suitable frameworks for businesses to access renewable electricity at a competitive price.”
The report illustrates significant regional variation in the adoption of renewable electricity, with gaps present in the global south and east where access and, at times, policy constraints make the shift to renewables more challenging. European operators are purchasing the most renewable energy, at more than 70% on average, with North American operators achieving around half that, although they are widely expected to close the gap with new energy purchasing contracts.
To better understand current emissions and begin to reduce them, the mobile industry is also improving its climate reporting, in both quantity and quality. Sixty-seven operators, accounting for 79% of mobile revenue and 66% of global connections, disclosed to CDP – the global disclosure system – in 2022; an increase of 7 operators on the previous year. And a record 36 operators received an ‘A’ score for their disclosures, up from 22 the previous year.
The GSMA is a global organisation unifying the mobile ecosystem to discover, develop and deliver innovation foundational to positive business environments and societal change. Our vision is to unlock the full power of connectivity so that people, industry, and society thrive. Representing mobile operators and organisations across the mobile ecosystem and adjacent industries, the GSMA delivers for its members across three broad pillars: Connectivity for Good, Industry Services and Solutions, and Outreach. This activity includes advancing policy, tackling today’s biggest societal challenges, underpinning the technology and interoperability that make mobile work, and providing the world’s largest platform to convene the mobile ecosystem at the MWC and M360 series of events.
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GSMA Press Office