Towards Telecom's Net Zero Goal
Author: Saurabh Agrawal
The telecommunications industry has a significant impact on the environment due to its high energy consumption, which is estimated to be around 1.5-2% of global electricity. As a result, sustainability is becoming increasingly important for telecom operators, who are facing pressure to reduce their environmental impact and operate in a more responsible way. Building green networks is a key aspect of achieving sustainability in the telecom industry. With the advent of 5G technology, the need for energy-efficient networks has become even more pressing. While 5G is more energy-efficient per gigabyte, it is projected to increase data usage by 400%, resulting in higher energy consumption. There is growing momentum within the telecoms industry for investments in sustainable technology and a reduction in carbon emissions. Governments and regulators are placing increasing emphasis on Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria in decision-making, which has encouraged operators to set public commitments for reducing carbon emissions. This article will explore some of the solutions and challenges needed to make this transition. ITU has worked jointly with GSMA, GeSI and SBTi to define the trajectories to be followed when setting emission targets reflecting the period with the baseline of 2015 until 2030. Around 40% of telecom operators have committed to Science-Based Targets (SBT). Similar guidance has also been developed for equipment manufacturers.