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Broadband Giant BT Bring UK Net Zero Target Forward to 2030

Monday, September 20th, 2021 (9:38 am) - Score 1,104
BT Tower 2021 in London

Telecoms giant BT (EE) has today announced that they’re bringing forward their target for achieving Net Zero by 15 years (i.e. removing as many carbon emissions as they produce), moving it from 2045 to 2030 for their own operational emissions. But their supply chain and customer emissions won’t follow until 2040.

The UK Government has so far committed to achieve Net Zero by 2050, although many environmental scientists fear this will be too late to reverse the impact of climate change. The scientific consensus suggests that a 1.5°C increase in global average temperatures is the limit to minimise the worst effects of climate change (BT’s targets are linked to this), but it’s recently been predicted that such a level could be reached by 2030 (one study even suggested there’s a 40% chance we’ll hit it in 2025).

BT actually has a reasonably good reputation on the climate front, as does Sky (Sky Broadband) and a few others. Since 2016 the operator claims to have already reduced the carbon emissions intensity of its operations by 57% and has reduced supply chain emissions by 19% over the same timeframe. BT has also completed the switch to 100% renewable electricity worldwide and pledged to transition the majority of its 33,000 strong commercial fleet to electric (EV) or zero carbon emissions vehicles by 2030.

However, the operator now intends to go further, and they currently expect to cut the emissions intensity of their business by 87% in time for the end of March 2031 (i.e. end of the 2030 financial year). A big part of this change will come from the removal of legacy networks and services, such as 3G mobile by 2023 and the copper-based Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) by the end of 2025 (this references the phone / voice service, rather than physical removal of all their copper lines – that will take longer as some will still be needed for broadband).

Openreach’s move to deploy FTTP broadband across 25 million lines by December 2026, as well as EE’s goal of delivering ultrafast 5G mobile networks “across the entire UK by 2028” (they actually mean 90% of the UK’s landmass), will also play a big role in all this.

Andy Wales, BT Group’s Chief Digital Impact & Sustainability Officer, said:

“As the world looks to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, we must remember that the global climate emergency hasn’t gone away. BT is committed to climate action and today’s announcement will see us not just deliver on our public commitments to date but exceed them.

Getting our own ‘BT’ house in order isn’t enough though. We must broaden the conversation around climate change by getting households up and down the country talking about it and helping them understand what they can do to help. That’s why I’d encourage all of our customers, colleagues and communities to get involved, by holding their own Sofa Summit, looking at the small, sustainable changes they can make.”

Just for comparison, Sky (Sky Broadband etc.) hopes to achieve Net Zero carbon by 2030, while Virgin Media expects to achieve this for its operations in Scope 1-2 by 2025 and Zen Internet are aiming for 2028. As for mobile operators, O2 are being a bit bolder and hope to be one of the first to reach this point by 2025 (we’re unsure if this will change after their merger with Virgin Media), while Vodafone target 2040 (2027 when only looking at the UK).

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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.
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9 Responses
  1. Winston Smith says:

    It’s a commendable goal but the claim of 100% worldwide renewable energy usage doesn’t really stand up currently.

    They may use suppliers that only buy renewable energy but unless they only consume energy in those brief periods when the supply is 100% renewable they can’t be sure of this.

    In the UK electricity generation is currently around 41% renewable overall but there are high demand periods when wind, solar and hydro availability is poor and a large proportion comes form fossil fuels.

    Renewable bio-fuels have 100% avaiability (and do produce carbon but this will have captured from the atmosphere) but have problems in replacing land being used for food production or destruction of existing carbon sequestering vegetation.

  2. Optimist says:

    “Renewable bio-fuels have 100% avaiability (and do produce carbon but this will have captured from the atmosphere) but have problems in replacing land being used for food production or destruction of existing carbon sequestering vegetation.”

    The irony is that plants grow faster with more atmospheric CO2. So horticulturists burn propane in their greenhouses in order to increase their crop yields. Also there is evidence that the world tree cover has actually increased considerably over the lat half-century as CO2 has increased. Reducing CO2 would cut crop yields and push more people into hunger.

    1. Mike says:

      It’s almost like depopulation is on the agenda…

    2. Buggerlugz says:

      Well, COVID didn’t quite do what the CCP wanted it to do, obviously.

    3. 125us says:

      I look forward to reading your peer-reviewed paper published in a scientific journal. Until then…

    4. Optimist says:

      “I look forward to reading your peer-reviewed paper published in a scientific journal. Until then…”

      I refer you to this 2016 lecture by Matt Ridley:

  3. Mal says:

    Question will be will the energy use just go elsewhere into powering ONTs in customers premises which BT don’t be account for?

  4. Buggerlugz says:

    How commendable, now if only China would stop building coal fired power-stations we could all sleep at night.


    Whilst commendable of BT, In reality its a fruitless gesture.

    1. Grimreaper says:

      The UK once again being the Martyr to what even in its name is a global problem. In the meantime, whilst we face an energy crisis and a year where our household bills could increase from an average of £900 to £1500+ from October, Germany get to keep their coal fired plants until 2038.

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