Speaking today at a Digital Impact & Sustainability Business Briefing for analysts and investors, BT Group announced that its network, offices and shops worldwide are now powered with 100% renewable electricity. The company also announced that its Top Tips on Tech campaign has helped 5.7 million people across the UK to learn and stay connected during the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Switching to renewables
BT, the joint-largest private purchaser of electricity in the UK will run its global operations on renewable electricity where markets allow and will purchase the remainder from neighbouring markets until local solutions can be found.
While challenges remain in sourcing renewable electricity in some countries, collaboration with members of the RE100 initiative is helping to make improvements in supplies.
BT’s transition to renewable electricity has been delivered through supporting the development of local renewable energy markets, with 16% of its electricity supplied through corporate Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and the remainder from high quality green tariffs or in a small number of markets, renewable certificates.
Making the switch to 100% renewable electricity will help BT reduce its carbon emissions in the year to March 2021 by an estimated 54,000 tonnes compared to last financial year. This is the equivalent of taking around 21,000 combustion engine vehicles off the road for a year.
Cyril Pourrat, chief procurement officer at BT, said, “As an organisation that consumes nearly 1% of the UK’s electricity, it is important for BT to demonstrate its commitment to a green recovery. Our team has worked hard to secure renewable electricity contracts for our sites globally, a crucial step towards the Paris agreement’s 1.5°C target.”
Welcoming the news, Sam Kimmins, head of RE100, the Climate Group, said, “We congratulate BT on their tremendous work to switch entirely to renewable electricity. BT was an early pioneer in setting a 100% goal, and has made impressive progress. Now, by transparently sharing not only their successes but also the challenges they face in a few remaining markets, BT is helping to accelerate local solutions and unlock clean energy use around the world.”
Transitioning to a low carbon fleet
In a bid to drive emissions down, Openreach which has the second largest commercial fleet in the UK is aiming to switch out a third of its 27,000 combustion engine vehicles to electric by 2025. With 33,000 vehicles, the entire BT Group fleet accounts for two thirds of its operational emissions.
In June 2020, BT Group including Openreach joined forces with the Climate Group to launch the UK Electric Fleets Coalition. The coalition of 27 companies has taken a leading role in communicating the benefits of switching from combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs) and has called for supportive policy measures which target 100% electric car and van sales by 2030; extend grants for electric vehicles and charging points through to at least 2023 and speed up the rollout of public charge-points across the country.
Commitment to climate action
BT has led on climate action for over 28 years and was one of the first companies in the world to adopt science-based targets, directly linking its own goals to the overall level of reductions in emissions needed to limit the most harmful impacts of the climate crisis.
As part of the transition to a low carbon business model, BT has pledged to become a net zero carbon emissions business by 2045 and has set targets in line with the most ambitious aim of the COP21 Paris Agreement – linking its targets to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
Since 2016/17, BT has reduced the carbon emissions intensity of its operations by 42% and has reduced carbon emissions by 8% in its supply chain over the same timeframe.
Last year, BT helped its customers save 13m tonnes of carbon – three times as much carbon as its own end-to-end carbon emissions – achieving its 3:1 carbon abatement target one year early. For every tonne of CO2 emitted by BT – three tonnes of customer emissions were saved.
BT’s commitment to reducing its carbon intensity will help the UK Government meet its target of net zero emissions by 2050 and is calling on other companies to take similar measures and make similar commitments.