The internet isn’t going away any time soon. If anything, people have only grown increasingly dependent on telecommunications. During the pandemic, the industry became a lifeline – not only for those looking for social support amidst the isolation but also for the millions whose jobs shifted to remote setups.
But as the demand for connectivity and data surges so do the responsibilities of telecom companies. The industry has been constantly under pressure to keep up with consumer needs – such as speed and security – while protecting environmental interests. Many members of the ICT (information and communications technology) sector have committed themselves to tackling the unending issue of climate change.
The industry to reach net zero carbon emissions within the year.
How does the Paris agreement affect companies?
The environmental onus has roots in various aspects. As most consumers shift to millennials and Gen-Z, they are holding more and more companies accountable for sustainability initiatives. More than one survey shows that these consumer sets prioritise businesses that actively support sustainability.
Telcos and the Paris Agreement
Moreover, in 2020, the ICT sector took a significant leap towards this environmental sustainability by launching the first-ever Science-Based Target (SBT). According to a United Nations report, its goal encompasses “emissions reductions trajectories for mobile, fixed, and data centre operators.” The plan aligns with the Paris Agreement, which was adopted in 2015 and enforced in 2016 to decrease global warming to 1.5°C by 2030. The treaty was signed by 193 parties, including 192 countries plus the European Union.
The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA or GSM Association) introduced the ICT initiative to emphasise its commitment to the UN’s sustainability goals. It also sets the motion for the industry to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The organisation has even launched a toolkit to guide telecom companies on how to achieve these targets.
As per the GSMA, here are just some of the steps the telecom industries can make the shift:
Reduce emissions by at least 45% between 2020 to 2030
Switch to renewable and low-carbon electricity
Extend energy-efficient solutions across industries
Here are some companies that have committed themselves to the Paris Agreement:
5G and the Environment
Every few years, a breakthrough happens in the telecommunications industry. First, the 1G enabled people to call others wirelessly. The 2G in the 1990s made it possible to send text messages. 3G allowed for video calls and GPS. And so on. The latest of these advancements is 5G, which began rolling out in 2019.
Is 5G bad for sustainability?
According to a paper by the University of Washington, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact environmental impact of the 5G rollout. However, because the entire premise of the technology is to allow the consumer more efficiency, you can expect massive energy consumption – which is one of the primary contributors to climate change.
As the push for connectivity grows, the article also anticipates demand for more devices. It could mean manufacturing and maintenance waste on top of usage. Most metals in these gadgets are reportedly non-recyclable.
However, a Columbia University report says otherwise. While the technology does spur ecological concerns, 5G’s efficiency and “intelligence” can also help protect the environment.
5G technology with IoT will be able to increase energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enable more use of renewable energy. It can help reduce air and water pollution, minimise water and food waste, and protect wildlife. It can also expand our understanding of and hence improve decision-making about the weather, agriculture, pests, industry, waste reduction and much more.
To emphasise their argument, Columbia lists 5G’s potential environmental benefits:
5G requires less energy to run than previous generations.
5G, data, and IoT can help program and streamline processes via data.
5G can power smart technology that can prevent environmental hazards.
5G can help disseminate information on environmental practices.
What Can the Telecommunications Industry Do To Be More Environmentally Sustainable?
The Boston Consulting Group outlines various ways telcos can commit to these new greener objectives, achieving their targets of becoming a carbon-neutral and circular economy.
1. Sustainability should not be about cost and compliance.
It all begins with the mindset. Too often, companies believe that going green is not cost-effective, putting sustainability at the bottom of their agenda. Telcos must think of these goals as an investment. Studies have shown that consumers are willing to pay a premium for greener solutions. It can also invite new revenue streams and promote customer loyalty.
2. Companies must self-analyse.
One of the first things a company must do is to evaluate its environmental footprint. Assess their current emissions and develop a baseline. Figure out which are the biggest contributors to these emissions and strategise how to reduce them accordingly.
3. Set ambitious but achievable goals.
If you want to follow the Paris Agreement, that’s great. Make sure to aim high but create concrete steps to get there.
4. Establish governance.
Follow through every step of the way. Assign leaders who will steadfastly keep watch over your strategies and analyse progress. Ensure that sustainability isn’t just something to put on paper. Integrate it in all aspects of the company – from human resources to finance to marketing.
Telecom companies themselves can already jumpstart the movement of being more sustainable. For example, they can cut their paper practices. Being paperless has become much easier thanks to digital providers that address the shift’s supposed complexities with white-label solutions.
e-Boks, a leading and trusted Nordic provider of secure platforms and digital postboxes, can help telcos diminish their digital footprint via digital transformation. It offers an integrated system that includes digital postboxes, signatures, pay slips, and invoices that can help your company from end to end.
In fact, partners of telecommunication companies can also make use of e-Boks’ whitelabeled digital solutions as it can be easily integrated into partner networks. For example, telco companies can onboard various utility companies to make use of the platform for document exchange with their customers.
Eliminating paper can reduce costs by 80% and significantly trim emissions.
e-Boks helps save 492,107 litres of water every single hour and 1,000 kilograms of paper. It has also pledged to rely solely on 100% carbon neutral data from data centre suppliers and plant 120,000 trees by 2030.
Are you ready to make a change? Get one step closer to the Paris Agreement by becoming an e-Bok partner now!
Let us tell you about our platform for secured digital communication.
Want to know how we can help you?
- e-Boks has more than 20+ years’ experience as a provider of digital infrastructure.
- We have developed solutions in co-operation with public organizations and are provider of national digital post solution in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Greenland and Irland.
- Many of the leading banks, insurance and pension companies have preferred e-Boks as supplier and development partner instead of pursuing their own solutions.