BT and the race to halve emissions by 2030

By The Exponential Roadmap Initiative | November 19, 2021

BT Group plc (trading as BT and formerly British Telecom) is a British multinational telecommunications holding company headquartered in London, England. It has operations in around 180 countries and is the largest provider of fixed-line, broadband and mobile services in the UK, and also provides subscription television and IT services. The Exponential Roadmap Initiative spoke to BT to find out more about their race to halving emissions by 2030.

At what rate has BT reduced its emissions up until now, and how has BT done it?

BT has been on a climate action journey for almost 30 years. We were one of the first companies in the world to set a carbon reduction target already back in 1992. In 2008, we set our first science-based target. We achieved that four years early in 2016, reducing the carbon emissions intensity of our business by 80%. We have already halved our operational emissions (Scope 1 and 2), having reduced the carbon emissions intensity of our operations by 57% since 2016/17 and we have reduced the carbon emissions from our supply chain by 19% over the same timeframe.

BT’s operational carbon emissions target reduction has primarily been met through us switching to 100% renewable energy worldwide.

With a customer base of 30 million and over one million small businesses, BT is well placed to get the nation talking about climate change. We want to use our reach and expertise through our new campaign, ‘The BT Big Sofa Summit’, to inspire everyone to make those much needed small sustainable steps and to embrace technologies available to help them become greener at home.

How does BT plan to cut its value chain emissions in half before 2030? 

In 2016, BT was one of the first companies in the world to set a science based target in line with the most ambitious aim of the Paris agreement – to reduce the carbon emissions intensity of our operations by 87% by end of March 2031 against a 2016/17 baseline. We are working with our suppliers to help them reduce their carbon emissions by 42% by the end of March 2031 against a 2016/17 baseline. We work with our suppliers to reduce their carbon emissions through encouraging them to report to CDP, set net-zero targets, purchasing renewable energy and through our sustainability contract clause, requiring them to reduce carbon emissions over the term of their contract with BT. We are also encouraging suppliers to sign up to Race to Zero and the SME climate commitment through the SME climate hub.

In September 2021, we announced plans to curb our carbon emissions sooner than planned by bringing forward our net-zero target from 2045 to 2030 for our own operational emissions and 2040 for our supply chain and customer emissions. Find out more. We have already met our target to use 100% renewable energy worldwide. Our focus is therefore on reducing emissions associated with our fleet (two-thirds of remaining operational emissions) and those of our buildings as well as supply chain emissions. Also, progress on carbon reduction and on digital skills training will make up 10% of the bonus calculation for eligible BT colleagues. As a business with 33,000 vehicles, we have outlined plans to transition the majority of our fleet to electric or zero carbon emissions vehicles by 2030.

What are BT’s biggest challenges, and how does BT plan to address them through radical collaboration –  e.g. as a member of the Exponential Roadmap Initiative and the UN Race To Zero?

Some of BT’s challenges include electrification of our fleet as well as working with our suppliers. We are looking at how we can electrify our fleets quicker through increased use of electric vehicles and we are continuing to encourage suppliers to join the Race to Zero and the SME climate commitment. In June 2020, BT and Openreach joined forces with the Climate Group to set up the UK Electric Fleets Coalition which is advocating for accelerated introduction of electric vehicles in the UK, for example through increased supply and roll-out of national EV infrastructure. More information can be found here: UK Electric Fleets Coalition | Climate Group (theclimategroup.org). The Coalition now has over 30 members, including 5 of the UK’s 6 largest commercial fleet operators.

Moreover, in July 2021, BT and the heads of six major UK companies working together as the Electric Vehicle Fleet Accelerator (EVFA) pledged to work together with the Government to remove obstacles to the electrification of the UK’s transport system.

We also sponsored the Heroes of Net Zero competition for UK small businesses to highlight climate action. We continue to advocate for increased collaboration and lead by example on reaching net zero.

To find out more about joining the Race to Zero through the Exponential Roadmap Initiative, please click here.

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