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ISP BT Updates on Progress Toward Sustainability Targets

Friday, May 22nd, 2020 (9:44 am) - Score 4,241
bt broadband logo 2019 official

Broadband and UK mobile giant BT Group (EE, Openreach, Plusnet) has recently issued their annual sustainability report, which among other things reveals that they’ve so far managed to cut their carbon emissions by 42% since 2016/17 (target reduction is 87% by 2030) and are making progress in other areas too.

The annual ‘Digital Impact and Sustainability 2019/20‘ (PDF) report covers a multitude of different areas, but we’ll primarily focus on the environmental impact side of this. Overall the operator appears to be making steady progress toward their primary ambition of becoming a net zero carbon emissions business by 2045 (briefly summarised below).

All of this is important given BT’s significant size and impact. For example, the operator consumes nearly 1% of the United Kingdom’s entire grid electricity supply and they have 34,000 vehicles in their fleet (28,000 used by Openreach engineers), although they have recently started to trial 23 electric vans (with 46 more on order) but this roll-out is restricted by the country’s weak “nationwide infrastructure for charging vehicles.”

BT’s Key Sustainability Ambitions

1. Reach 10m people in the UK with help to improve their digital skills by 2025

PROGRESS: 2.8m people reached since 2014/15.

2. Become a net zero carbon emissions business by 2045

PROGRESS: 243 Ktonnes CO2e emitted in 2019/20 (18.6% reduction on last year).

3. Cut our carbon emissions intensity by 87% by 2030

PROGRESS: 42% reduction since 2016/17.

4. Buy 100% of our electricity worldwide from renewable sources by the end of 2020, wherever markets allow

PROGRESS: 92% of our worldwide electricity consumed is renewably sourced, which is up from 86% last year (and we’re at 100% for directly purchased electricity in the UK).

5. Enable customers to reduce their carbon emissions by at least three times the end-to-end carbon impact of our business by the end of 2020/21

PROGRESS: 3.1:1 achieved in 2019/20 – one year early.

6. Reduce carbon emissions from our supply chain by 29% by 2030

PROGRESS: 8% reduction achieved since 2016/17.

Shrinking carbon emissions from the 6,000 buildings in their UK operations is also an important part of tackling all this. This year, the operator invested £45.3m in energy management projects in the UK, which cut operating costs (£343m saved since 2009/10) and contributed to a global energy reduction of 65GWh (2.3%) in their energy consumption.

The operator also recycles or recovers almost all of their waste. “We produced around 40.5 Ktonnes of waste this year worldwide (27% more than last year). Some 96% (99.5% in the UK) of this was recovered or recycled. The waste generated by our business increased for the second year in succession as a result of our network investments, disposal of legacy equipment and buildings rationalisation,” said BT’s report.

Sadly BT also increased their usage of water in adiabatic systems to “cool equipment at our facilities as we work to reduce our climate impact by replacing older systems that run on greenhouse gases,” which saw their water use climb by 5% last year and a further 14% this year to 2.2m m3. The operator is however taking control of their water supply (i.e. gaining a licence as a water self-supplier in England) and they hope that will help them to both cut cost and fix leaks more effectively.

Otherwise the only mistake we could see was where the operator claims to have “extended ultra-fast broadband to 14.6m [premises],” which of course isn’t correct since “ultra-fast” usually means speeds of at least 100Mbps and so far Openreach’s related G.fast and FTTP technologies – without even factoring for overbuild – only cover a combined total of around 5.38 million premises (FTTP is expected to reach 20m by the “mid – to late-2020s“).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
5 Responses
  1. Avatar joe

    I wonder what proportion is anticipated via the copper switch off.

  2. Avatar alex

    “so far managed to cut their carbon emissions by 42% since 2016/17 (target reduction is 87% by 2030)”

    Impressive how did they get so many staff to stop farting?

  3. Avatar Mike

    So they’ve managed to starve trees of 42% more food, well done.

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