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Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Materiality Assessment Topics: Company energy use | Global Reporting Initiative G4 Indicators: G4-33, EN15, EN16, EN17, EN18, EN19

Issue Summary

The ability to measure and manage greenhouse gas emissions is important to the company’s efforts to manage its environmental impact and to illuminate associated business threats and opportunities.

Our Position

We’re committed to measuring our greenhouse gas emissions and taking steps to manage them.

Data Highlights

2016 Key Performance Indicators
  • Domestic carbon footprint (metric tons CO2-equivalent): 11,599,625 (Scopes 1, 2 & 3)
  • Domestic and international carbon footprint (metric tons CO2-equivalent): 12,275,951  (Scopes 1, 2 & 3)
  • Greenhouse gas intensity (metric tons CO2-equivalent/$ million of revenue): 54.20 (Scopes 1 & 2)
  • Greenhouse gas intensity (metric tons CO2-equivalent/Petabyte of data): 79.90 (Scopes 1 & 2)
  • Alternative-fuel vehicles deployed as of end-of-year 2015: 11,257 total
2020/2025 Goals
  • 2020 Goal: We will continue to drive reductions in emissions and increases in resource efficiency and alternative energy deployment.
  • 2025 Goal: AT&T will enable carbon savings 10x the footprint of our operations by enhancing the efficiency of our network and delivering sustainable customer solutions.

Click here to learn more about our 2020/2025 Goals.

Targets to our 2020/2025 Goals
In Progress
  • 2020 Target: Reduce our Scope 1 emissions by 20% by 2020, using a 2008 Scope 1 baseline of 1,172,476 metric tons (mtons) CO2-equivalent (CO2e).
    • PROGRESS: In 2016, we emitted 1,140,631 mtons CO2e (Scope 1). This represents a 2.72% decrease compared to our 2008 baseline, although it is a slight uptick from 2015. Due to changes in the business, two challenges we’re experiencing with this Scope 1 goal are growth in our ground fleet and our expanded fuel cell capacity: 
      • Our U.S. ground fleet emissions were up from 2015, as a result of the DIRECTV acquisition and inclusion of its fleet. 
      • Emissions from natural gas were up from 2015, driven in part by additional fuel cells. Fuel cells are a key component to our resiliency and efficiency, and have the added benefit of reduced emissions. Because fuel cells are counted as Scope 1 emissions rather than Scope 2, our usage of them will put pressure on our ability to meet our Scope 1 goal.
  • 2017 Target: Reduce fleet greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by the end of 2017.
    • PROGRESS: By the end of 2016, AT&T reduced fleet emissions by 99,000 metric tons of CO2e, or 12% from our 2008 baseline. 100% of passenger sedans procured in 2016 were hybrid vehicles. In addition, AT&T reduced the size of its domestic fleet by 1,800 vehicles.
  • 2025 Target: Enhance network efficiency to enable the achievement of the “net positive” ratio.
    • PROGRESS: AT&T joined BSR’s Net Positive Project in 2016, a cross-sector coalition that aims to develop practices and tools companies can use to quantify, assess, communicate and enhance their positive impacts on society and the environment.
  • 2025 Target: Deliver customer solutions to achieve the “net positive” ratio.
    • PROGRESS: AT&T joined BSR’s Net Positive Project in 2016, a cross-sector coalition that aims to develop practices and tools companies can use to quantify, assess, communicate, and enhance their positive impacts on society and the environment.

Our Action

We’ve been measuring and disclosing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions since 2008. These are our results for 2016.

Performance

Our GHG emissions in 2016 decreased by 0.2% compared to 2015, both for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.  

For our 2016 greenhouse gas inventory, we obtained independent assurance of our Scope 1, 2 and 3 (business travel) emissions from Trucost. Their statement can be found in this Independent Accountant’s Report. We believe it’s important that this metric be accurate, and Trucost’s increased rigor around this process helps us realize continual, year-over-year improvements in accuracy. For additional detail about AT&T’s GHG emissions and calculations methodology, please see our Methodology and Process Detail document.

2016-ghg-scope-chart

Scope 1 (Direct Emissions)

We have a goal to reduce our Scope 1 emissions by 20% by 2020, using a 2008 Scope 1 baseline of 1,172,476 metric tons (mtons) CO2-equivalent (CO2e). 

In 2016, we emitted 1,140,631 mtons CO2e (Scope 1). This represents a 2.72% decrease compared to our 2008 baseline, although it is a slight uptick from 2015.

Since setting our Scope 1 goal, we have greatly expanded our business operations to include DIRECTV and Iusacell in Mexico, and DIRECTV in Latin America. We’ve also more than doubled our number of natural gas fuel cells for on-site power generation. Together, these activities impose a great deal of upward pressure on our Scope 1 emissions, and challenge our ability to achieve the original Scope 1 goal.

Our U.S. ground fleet emissions are up nearly 13% (+80,620 mtons CO2e) from 2015, as a result of the DIRECTV acquisition and inclusion of its fleet. When the U.S. fleet baseline is restated to include the acquisition, fleet emissions dropped 0.56% in 2016 and have decreased by more than 12% from our 2008 baseline. Read more about our company fleet initiatives.

Emissions from natural gas were up from 2015, driven in part by additional fuel cells. Fuel cells are a key component to our resiliency and efficiency, and have the added benefit of reduced emissions. Because fuel cells are counted as Scope 1 emissions rather than Scope 2, our usage of them will put pressure on our ability to meet our Scope 1 goal.

Another large portion of our direct emissions comes from the stationary engines and portable generators that support field operations where commercial power is not available, or provide back-up power in the event of an outage. These generators are a critical component of AT&T’s Network Disaster Recovery organization, which works to keep wireless and wired communications flowing when disaster strikes. In 2016, the Atlantic region experienced the first “above-normal” hurricane season since 2012, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Increased engine runtimes in these areas contributed to the overall increase in direct emissions.

ghg-emissions-chart

Scope 2 (Indirect Emissions)

Our Scope 2 emissions account for 87% of our total (Direct, i.e., Scope 1, and Indirect, i.e., Scope 2) emissions.  Scope 2 emissions are associated with purchased electricity and steam. We saw an increase of nearly 1.4% in our Scope 2 emissions footprint. DIRECTV Latin American emissions, being incorporated for the first time, are the primary driver of the increases. These increases were partially offset by Scope 2 decreases in our domestic electricity footprint due to greater efficiency measures, maintaining updated emissions calculation methodologies and reducing our estimated data values, all while continuing to expand our network operations.

Normalizing our electricity use to the data carried on our network, we saw a 53% year-over-year decrease in megawatt hours per petabyte of data carried on our network, and we have been successful in reducing electricity consumption relative to data growth by 67% compared to our baseline year of 2013.

Read about our energy management efforts.

Scope 3 (Other Emissions)

For 2016, we are reporting on several categories of Scope 3 emissions, and we are working to expand our reporting capabilities within this scope.

Business Travel

We continue to measure our business-related travel in our Scope 3 emissions. In 2016, AT&T’s Scope 3 business-related travel (combined air travel and rental car use) increased by 40% compared to 2015. This significant increase is due to the addition of DIRECTV travel volume, and additionally accounts for travel between the U.S. and Mexico and throughout the continental U.S.

Downstream Leased Assets

This category includes emissions from the operation of assets that are owned by AT&T, leased to other entities (e.g., customers) in the reporting year and not already included in Scope 1 or Scope 2. Historically, AT&T has not reported on this Scope 3 category due to data availability. With the acquisition of DIRECTV in 2015, we are able to quantify the estimated electricity and corresponding GHGs from set-top boxes (STBs). In 2016, DIRECTV leased 62,007,222 set-top boxes, which accounted for an additional 2,939,785 metric tons CO2e. Since 2012, the number of customer STBs has increased by 12%, while the total energy consumed by those STBs is down 17%. The result is a reduction of more than 680,000 mtons CO2e.

See our Energy Management issue brief for information about our product energy efficiency efforts.

Supplier Emissions

AT&T is working with the CDP Supply Chain Initiative to collect the emissions from our top suppliers. Because of these efforts, we were able to estimate three Scope 3 supplier emissions categories: purchased goods and services, capital goods, and upstream transportation and distribution. Data is received each year by CDP for the previous year’s emissions, thus data received in 2016 cover 2015 supplier emissions. The economic allocation model is applied in calculating the emission estimates. We continue to work with third-party consulting firms as part of a pre-assurance exercise to assess and improve our methodology, and we will apply lessons learned in future reporting years. Given the annual one-year lag in supplier emissions availability, we are not including them in the overall 2016 Scope 3 emissions total and list them in the 2015 table below.

Please see our Engaging Our Supply Chain issue brief for further details about our supply chain efforts.

Scope 3 2015 Supplier Emissions mtons CO2-e
Purchased Goods and Services* 1,579,116
Capital Goods* 109,904
Upstream Transportation and Distribution* 126,110
*Estimated for two categories only, based on economic allocation of 2015 supplier GHG emissions, revenue and spend data

Updated on: Sep 27, 2017

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