BT hopes green tech and electric vehicles will drive sustainability efforts

(Image credit: BT)

BT is accelerating its sustainability programme with a package of ‘green recovery’ measures that will allow the company and its customers to reduce their carbon emissions once the Coronavirus pandemic has subsided.

A partnership with the Silicon-Valley based ‘Plug and Play’ platform will identify technologies from UK-based scale-ups that could support these ambitions. Smart streets, smart buildings and remote working are three initial areas of focus.

BT’s involvement will range from providing these companies with a cheaper, faster route to market up to a revenue sharing model or even taking a stake in the business.

BT green measures

The other major initiative is the creation of the UK Electric Fleets Alliance through a partnership with The Climate Group. The organisation will promote electric vehicle adoption and infrastructure across the UK and develop supporting policies.

The measure support BT’s existing sustainability efforts. As the UK’s joint-largest private purchaser of electricity in the UK, 100 per cent comes from renewable sources. This figure is 92 per cent globally, but BT plans to have eliminated non-renewables by December this year.

Over the past four years, BT has reduced the carbon emission intensity of its operations by 42 per cent and by 8 per cent within its supply chain. On top of this, it has helped customers save 13 million tonnes of carbon – three times its own emission rate. The eventual aim is to become a net zero carbon emission business by 2045.

As part of this drive, BT will soon factor progress on carbon emissions targets when calculating bonuses, adding further incentives to the workforce. The firm publishes an annual sustainability report.

“The economic set back and immense hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic are severe and could be long lasting,” elaborated BT CEO Philip Jansen. “However, despite the temporary reprieve on carbon emissions and air quality in towns and cities during the lockdown, the global climate emergency hasn’t gone away.

“As we emerge from the crisis, the recovery presents a huge opportunity for Governments, businesses and individuals to put action on climate at the heart of their efforts. We will be playing our part with a once-in-a-generation investment in the UK’s digital infrastructure: full fibre broadband to 20 million premises, as well as our continued investment in 5G mobile. We will also be backing new green technologies through our Green Tech Innovation Platform. BT is stepping up on climate action and we want to encourage and help others to do the same.”

The role of broadband and mobile networks has been elevated by the pandemic as lockdown measures mean people rely on connectivity for work, entertainment and communications. Despite fears the additional traffic would overload capacity, these networks have coped well with the additional demand.

A GSMA survey has found that this surge is not significantly impacting the environment, with operators stating there hasn’t been a notable increase in energy consumption. Mobile and fixed networks are designed to be as energy-efficient as possible, a feature that reduces operating costs, and can accommodate extra traffic loads without requiring additional power.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.