BT has released its latest sustainability report which shows that it reduced carbon emissions by 3.6% between 2010 and 2011. Carbon intensity, which is emissions generated related to profit and employees, has been reduced by 59% since 1997. This is BT’s preferred method of reporting emissions, with a target (set in 2008) to cut carbon intensity by 80% from 1997 levels by 2020.
BT reduced energy consumption globally by 2.5%, saving more than £18m. Of that, £6.2m came from the use of smart control initiatives, with most electricity consumption now monitored through smart meters, which provide the means to track use and target savings.
In line with using less energy, BT also aims to generate a quarter of its UK energy needs from renewable sources by 2016. The company has obtained planning permission for its first wind farm site, which will supply 1% of electricity from 2012. Using bought-in renewable energy is also part of the plan. In the UK it sources 42% of electricity from renewable sources and has extended this contract to 2014. There are also green energy contracts in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg.
The company is including employees in its climate saving initiatives. The aim is to involve 20% of the workforce in climate-related activities by 2012 and over 15,000 (16%) have already signed up. There are 137 carbon clubs worldwide, energy saving campaigns around the business and 92 energy champions.
The above is just the climate change aspects of the company’s sustainability report, which is here.
Whatever you think of BT (they’re not the best loved on telecoms providers) the company is certainly making impressive efforts to improve its climate impact.
OK, so there is an argument to be had about whether carbon intensity is the best way for a company to target emissions reductions, since we need absolute reductions to save the planet. But I’ve listened to Chris Tuppen, who was BT’s Chief Sustainability Officer until the middle of last year, explain the methodology and it’s tie-in with global emissions reductions targets and he was pretty convincing. (Tuppen had high-level involvement with the Global Reporting Initiative, the Global e-Sustainability Initiative and the European Telecommunication Network Operators Association’s environmental working group and he was also a co-editor of the SMART 2020 report).
But BT admits that reducing emissions is only going to get harder: “Improving energy efficiency will become more challenging over time as we achieve many of the easy wins and due to the higher energy consumption of new infrastructure such as super-fast broadband”. Can’t help commenting that it might be worth the company joining GreenTouch, the organisation with the aim of increasing network energy efficiency by a factor of 1000 from current levels by 2015. BT is conspicuous by its absence
Finally, BT also reported that “Because progress at other proposed wind farm locations has been impacted by changes in local planning laws and local authority renewable generation targets we are exploring other options including solar photovoltaic cells (PV) and combined heat and power”. It’s regrettable that the changes to the planning laws introduced by the UK government seems to be closing the door on some sources of renewable energy.