O2 commits to ‘net zero’ emissions by 2025

An O2 shop sign with an overcast sky in the background
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

O2 is aiming to become a ‘net zero’ company in the next five years by executing a plan designed to reduce carbon emissions in addition to cutting supply chain emissions by 30%.

The company has committed to using more renewable energy sources to power the calls, texts and data usage over its networks, ramping up the ambition outlined more than ten years ago to reduce emissions.

The UK network also says it’ll implement more ambitious targets within its supply chain, which includes handset manufacturers, to achieve a 30% reduction by 2025.

“Today, we’re putting a stake in the ground. We want to go further and faster, setting the bar in our industry to tackle climate change and build the greenest network for our customers,” said O2 CEO Mark Evans.

“Every office, every store, every mast. We will get the changes done to be a Net Zero Business by 2025.

“Mobile can play a pivotal role to make our country more sustainable. From smart metering to smarter working. O2 will work with suppliers, partners and customers to ensure that this industry plays its part in delivering a greener country for us all.”

O2 has joined a string of companies in recent months that have made green commitments in efforts to reduce their negative impact on the environment.

Amazon, for example, has committed to becoming a carbon-neutral company by 2040, while Google achieved its 100% renewable energy goal in April 2018.

The phrase ‘net zero’ is different from ‘zero carbon’, however, in that emissions are still produced by a ‘net zero’ company, but are offset using technology like carbon capture and storage, and certified greenhouse gas removal.

Microsoft has gone far further than the rest of the pack in its recent commitment to become a ‘carbon negative’ company by 2030, planning to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it contributes.

O2 plans on achieving net-zero status by switching third-party landlords that support the O2 network over to renewable energy while creating technical and energy transition tools across its business where appropriate.

The firm will also work with the wider Telefonica Group to reduce supply chain emissions, as well as encourage suppliers to raise their efforts to reduce emissions. There are, however, no concrete steps as to how the company will achieve this.

Progress against both these ambitions are set to be reported on an annual basis and will be independently assessed.

With the rollout of 5G networks underway, meanwhile, building out the infrastructure will undoubtedly contribute to a company’s carbon footprint. Research published in October last year, however, suggests that the rollout of 5G technology could reduce global carbon emissions by half a billion tonnes.

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.