Vodafone to halve emissions by 2020

Vodafone has set itself a long-term green goal, announcing it will cut its carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2020 - and even bring out solar powered phones to help its customers be environmentally-friendly, too.

The firm will use 2006/07 as its baseline, when it caused some 1.23 million tonnes to be released into the atmosphere.

Arun Sarin, chief executive of Vodafone, said: "This is the right decision for a responsible business to take. It is good for the environment but also makes sense for the business. It resonates from a financial perspective as improving energy efficiency helps us to control costs."

Rather than just buy carbon offset credits, Vodafone said it will directly prevent such emissions by cutting its energy use and using renewable power sources. "We have reviewed the options, including carbon offsetting, and have concluded that the most effective strategy is to cut our CO2 emissions directly."

He added: "There are no simple solutions to what is a complex challenge. But through operational changes and technological innovation we will focus on improving energy efficiency in our networks, which account for 80 per cent of our emissions. We will use renewable energy when and where we can."

Vodafone said it will also look to develop greener products and services, to help customers be more environmentally-friendly

"It also resonates with customers, as developing new products and services, such as our plans for solar-powered phone chargers and universal phone chargers for Vodafone-branded handsets," said Sarin. "This will help customers to limit their own emissions and this is something they value more and more."

Sarin said he hoped Vodafone's move would inspire other firms to take action.

The mobile operator said it would also be looking at its newly-purchased businesses in India and Turkey and would announce separate climate change targets for those companies in due course.

Jonathon Porritt, the founder and director of Vodafone's partner Forum for the Future, said: "2020 may sound a long way away, but it is what Vodafone does over the next two or three years which will determine whether or not they hit that 50 per cent target."

Aside from focusing on networks, Vodafone said it was also allowing a higher temperature in base station cabinets, which cut their energy use by 10 per cent.