Climate responsibility

Digitalisation can reduce carbon emissions

Digitalisation can play a decisive part in advancing climate protection as, according to a Bitkom study, millions of tonnes of carbon emissions can be eliminated with smart grids in the energy infrastructure, Internet of Things applications in industry, telecommuting and smart mobility solutions. However, the increase in the volume of data transmitted via the networks as part of this ongoing digitalisation requires additional electricity, which in turn influences the environment and climate. Our answer to this is to reduce power consumption per byte with energy-efficient mobile communications standards and technical modernisations. By 2025 we will reduce energy consumption per data volume by 87 % compared with 2015. The expansion of our 5G network will be crucial here as 5G requires up to 90 % less power per transported byte than previous generations. In this way, we are striving to be a sustainability trailblazer in Germany’s telecommunications industry. We already procure 100 % green electricity at all of our sites. In a pilot project, we are testing the use of photovoltaic systems at selected antenna sites in order to make our own contribution to renewable energy generation.

Our commitment: net zero carbon emissions by 2025

“We want to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2025 at the latest. With this goal, we are making a statement regarding sustainability and will become a pioneer in Germany’s telecommunications sector. We want to at least reduce and ideally avoid carbon emissions and only offset those which are absolutely unavoidable. We want to use less and less electricity per byte to transport the significantly increasing data volumes that go hand in hand with digitalisation.”
Markus Haas
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Our climate strategy is a comprehensive concept that combats climate change and is a key component of our sustainability management. We have set ourselves the target of net zero carbon emissions by 2025. What this means in concrete terms is that we will no longer be causing any greenhouse gas emissions as a company by 2025 at the latest. Our target of net zero carbon emissions by 2025 relates to Scope 1 and 2 emissions as well as emissions caused by our travel activities. We intend to reduce GHG emissions throughout the value chain (Scope 3) to net zero by 2040. We will evaluate the Scope 3 emissions caused throughout the Telefónica, S.A. Group, for example in the supply chain, in a coordinated manner and will implement measures and reduce these emissions. The Group’s target here is to reduce its carbon emissions by 39 % by 2025 (base year: 2016). We are focusing our efforts on carbon dioxide (CO2). We will also take into account the greenhouse gases methane (CH₄) and nitrous oxide (N₂O) as well as the refrigerant gases which are relevant to the climate (F-gases). We will present the reductions in carbon equivalents (CO2e) as the unit of measurement.

In adopting the term “net zero emissions”, we are following the findings and recommendations of recognised international institutions such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) whose criteria we drew on to develop our climate strategy. Our climate targets are therefore in line with the recommendations and demands made in the field of science – global warming is to be limited to 1.5°C compared with pre-industrial levels. O2Telefónica therefore aligns its ambitions closely with the climate protection targets of Telefónica, S.A., which has made a Group-wide commitment to achieving net zero emissions. We will neutralise emissions which are unavoidable and will invest in certified climate protection projects with high environmental and social standards, preferably projects that remove carbon from the atmosphere.

What specifically we can do

Our target: climate neutrality by 2025
Our climate strategy focuses on energy efficiency and carbon reduction – we invest in energy-efficient technology, use renewable energies and promote low-pollutant mobility, and we are increasingly offering our customers sustainable products and services. With the help of our infrastructure and services, businesses and people can realise their sustainable digital business models and thus conserve the environment. The network technology is responsible for approximately 97 % of the company’s power consumption. The power consumed is already measured by smart metering systems at many of the sites. The consumption of every mobile network installation equipped with a smart meter is recorded every second and is transmitted to a cloud server by an Internet of Things radio unit via the O2 network. Subsequently, the power consumption of all the sites is to be analysed when thresholds are exceeded, thus allowing for predictive maintenance and the early identification of malfunctions. We are better able to manage energy consumption thanks to this real-time data. As well as our network sites, we want to run our office buildings energy-efficiently and make 70 % of internal business trips superfluous with the aid of digitalised and virtual work processes. We also see huge potential in the virtualisation of our data centres as the efficiency of data centres is dependent among other things on their capacity utilisation and the possibilities of using the waste heat. We have set ourselves the clear goal of collaborating solely with efficient cloud service providers that at least use green electricity in order not to increase our emissions in this way. Migration to the cloud additionally offers us advantages in terms of scalability and the resource-conserving use of computing capacity.

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