Big business must lead the way as part of a green recovery

Jane Wood

A TRULY green recovery will require a joint effort from government, business and society to overcome the challenge of transitioning to a low-carbon economy.

BT, one of the first companies in the world to commit to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C, has long recognised the importance of setting ambitious carbon reduction targets as a way of motivating our organisation and inspiring others. We set our first carbon target in 1992.

This long-standing commitment is part of the reason we were able to achieve our 2020 goal of reducing the carbon emissions intensity of its business by 80 per cent four years ahead of schedule. We then went on to set new ambitious science-based targets, including in 2018, setting a target to become a net-zero emissions business by 2045.

We're committed to decarbonising our 32,000 vehicle fleet, the second largest in the UK. We're already trialling electric vehicles on a small scale, and while government and industry have worked hard to promote electric vehicles, there's more to do.

Allowing industry to develop emission-reducing technologies has supercharged the renewables market. Taking this approach has the potential to do the same for low emission vehicles.

BT uses almost one per cent of the UK's electricity but has long been a pioneer in renewable electricity. Some 92 per cent of the electricity we consume around the world is now renewably sourced, and we're at 100 per cent for the electricity we purchase directly in the UK.

Over the last decade, our energy efficiency programmes have saved almost £300m, allowing us to re-invest those savings elsewhere.

In the last year alone, our latest products and services, such as video conferencing and vehicle telematics, helped our customers save 11.7 million tonnes of carbon.

Our 5G and full fibre networks have the potential to make the Internet of Things and the idea of smart cities a reality for many people across the UK.

We're exploring how 5G can help move people via connected autonomous vehicles (CAVs) and goods through connected automated goods vehicles (AGVs). We're also looking at 5G smart water initiatives, smart traffic solutions and air quality monitoring, all of which could help move people and goods in a more sustainable way.

A recent report by the Centre for Economics & Business Research found that connecting the UK to fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband by 2025 would deliver almost a £60 billion boost to UK and could save 300 million commuting trips each year, with three billion fewer kilometres travelled by car.

We've been able to take some dramatic steps towards tackling one of society's biggest challenges, but more needs to be done.We hope others will join us in setting their own science-based net-zero targets so we can work on climate action collectively.

:: Jane Wood is BT Group's nations and regions director

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