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O2 Seeking to Become UK’s First Net Zero Mobile Network

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020 (12:01 am) - Score 1,640
o2_net_zero_carbon_2025

Mobile operator O2 has today announced that it aims to become the UK’s “first net zero mobile network.” As part of that they’ve pledged to remove carbon emissions from their entire business and network by the end of 2025, whilst also working with supply chain partners (e.g. Smartphone makers) to cut emissions by 30%.

Reaching net zero carbon (i.e. removing as many emissions as they produce) is an extremely challenging goal for any company. Just for comparison, Sky (Sky Broadband, Sky Mobile etc.) hopes to achieve net zero carbon by 2030, while BT (EE) expects to do this by 2045 and Virgin Media appears to have aligned itself with the RE100 initiative’s general 2050 target.

In order to achieve this O2 plans to switch third-party landlords that support the O2 network over to renewable energy, while creating technical and energy transition solutions across its whole business where needed. The operator already uses 100% renewable energy where it controls the energy bill (they started doing that in 2008).

Meanwhile O2’s move to pressure their supply chain partners into reducing emissions shouldn’t be too difficult as many of those have already made separate commitments of their own. Perhaps unsurprisingly O2 has not said what would happen to these relationships if their partners failed to achieve the target (probably not a lot).

Progress against these commitments will be both reported annually and independently assessed and audited by Aenor and ERM.

Mark Evans, O2 CEO, said:

“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. 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.”

We should point out that O2 already does a number of other things to reduce their environmental impact. For example, their network saves energy by dropping capacity when demand is low (others do this too) and they have long worked to recycle both mobile phones from customers (over 3 million devices have gone through their recycle process, saving 450 tonnes of waste from landfill) and they do the same for old retail uniforms. O2 also claims to have been the first to introduce an Eco rating scheme for new phones.

Leave a Comment
11 Responses
  1. Avatar Mike

    Removing an imaginary problem rather than building a better network…

    • Avatar Lister

      Calling it an “imaginary problem” is something that the vast majority of scientific research would appear to disagree with, putting you in the same camp as anti-vaxxers, anti-5g and flat earthers. ok fine, but whether or not you accept what is happening, none of that should stop somebody being able to welcome the effort of a business that reduces its emissions due to the real health benefits by cutting pollution for the rest of us.

    • Avatar F

      I am firmly with Lister on this one. The digital sector is forecast to emit 1.7 gigatons of CO2eq in 2020, rising to 2.5 gigatons in 2025 (https://theshiftproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Lean-ICT-Report_The-Shift-Project_2019.pdf). The digital sector is responsible for a very high proportion of GHG emissions. This growth is incompatible with the Paris Climate Accord that aims to keep global warning below 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels. I think we all know about the climate emergency and immense suffering that we inflict upon our children if we fail to deliver on climate change. The science is absolutely clear on global warming and empirical evidence is showing that warming taking place today.

      Well done O2. They are joining the likes of Sky Italy and Microsoft who are leading the way on carbon reduction. Increasingly it will also make good business sense as the highest polluters will become ‘toxic’ in the financial markets. This is happening with fossil fuel companies today, it will expand to secondary polluting industries tomorrow. Better to be ahead of the curve from a business perspective.

      From an entirely personal perspective, and I am surely in a minority on this today, this is a differentiator that would lean me towards selecting O2 when my contract is up for renewal.

  2. Avatar The Facts

    ‘network saves energy by dropping capacity when demand is low’ – Saves money.

    • Avatar gerarda

      O2 seem to be reducing network capacity at all times. Coverage in this area has declined shockingly over the last 2 years. Have to rely on their wifi hotspots to get a decent signal

    • Avatar Fred

      Reducing capacity when demand is low sounds entirely sensible to me – other sectors do this all the time. And who cares if businesses can save money whilst trying to be more environmentally responsible? In fact, it is good if money can be saved in the process as it will encourage more businesses to adopt such measures.

      I accept that if capacity is cut such that service is adversely impacted in a significant way then that is problematic but reducing emissions by reducing unused capacity makes perfect sense to me.

      As for if O2 are good provider in other ways, can’t really comment as I am not currently using O2.

      Fred

  3. Avatar Ryan

    Just out of interest how much power does a mast on top of a building use along with all the associated other bits of equipment it needs on top of a building?

    Anyone?

    • Avatar Fred

      According to: https://www.lightreading.com/mobile/5g/power-consumption-5g-basestations-are-hungry-hungry-hippos/d/d-id/749979

      6KW for 4G, 15KW for 5G. For 4G I think that is probably reasonable. I am sceptical for that 5G figure though, unless I am miss-reading it? For 5G there is a need for a MUCH higher density of base stations so if they were 15KW a pop x the much greater density, that would be very significant indeed.

      A regular 3G / 4G base station have the Node-B or equivalent and also the backhaul. It may need its own cooling as well. Then there is the aggregators, gateways, core etc. Overall, comms is a big CO2 contributor: Communication is about 5.6% of global emissions. Services is another 10% (much of which is digital services).

      F

    • Avatar Fred

      Just re-read. 10KW for 5G but assuming a modest 3x as many base stations (which also I am not convinced about) that would be 30Kw for 5G vs 6KW for 4G for the same geographic coverage.

      Fred

    • Avatar TheFacts

      5G and 4G mast planning apps want 3x120A supply.

  4. Avatar CityBoy

    Not a mobile network but Zen Internet are already carbon neutral plus, removing more co2 from the atmosphere than they put in. And they’ve successful stopped sending waste to landfill. That’s zero waste going to landfill!

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