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Technology's Role in Climate and Resource Resilience

Materiality Assessment Topics: Products and services that enable social and environmental benefit | Global Reporting Initiative G4 Indicator: Products and services that enable social and environmental benefit DMA

Issue Summary

Environmental challenges like resource scarcity and volatile weather can disrupt a company’s business operations. Technology companies are in a unique position to help customers – from individuals to large enterprises and government organizations – mitigate their environmental impact and improve their resiliency.

Our Position

Our Climate Change Policy states that AT&T recognizes climate change is happening and that greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to it. We believe that our technology can help lower emissions for both our company and our customers. Technology will continue to play a critical role in transitioning to a more resource efficient world, increasing business resiliency and improving daily lives.

Data Highlights

2020/2025 Goals
  • 2020 Goal: We will enable AT&T customers to lead more sustainable lives by expanding access to technology, further integrating sustainability solutions into products and measuring the impacts.
  • 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.
Targets to our 2020/2025 Goals


  • 2020 Target: Develop and deploy robust methodology to understand AT&T’s network impacts to society.
    • PROGRESS: In 2016, AT&T engaged with leading NGOs, industry groups and peer companies to develop a credible methodology to measure the greenhouse gas impacts of customers’ use of AT&T’s technology in an effort to track progress against our 10X goal.
  • 2020 Target: Demonstrate the environmental and social enablement power of consumer devices and solutions to live smarter, healthier and more independent lives.
    • Collaborate both internally and externally to help quantify the environmental and social sustainability enablement impacts of AT&T consumer devices and solutions (e.g., Internet of Things, Digital Life, Eco-Ratings, connected car, education and accessibility).
      • PROGRESS: As AT&T builds an overarching measurement methodology to reach our 2025 goal of enabling carbon reductions 10 times the footprint of our operations, we consider the relevant consumer-facing products and services that will help us reach our goal. Working with our internal business units, we continue to identify the environmental and social benefits associated with specific devices and solutions, as well as their power to enable smarter, healthier and more independent lives.
  • 2025 Target: Enhance network efficiency to enable the achievement of the “net positive” ratio.
  • 2025 Target: Deliver customer solutions to achieve “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 work with other companies, governments, non-profits and academia to promote technology that tackles climate change and resource challenges.

At the same time, we must continually strive to reduce our own energy intensity and greenhouse gas emissions, and increase resiliency in all of our operations.

Technology’s role in shifting to a low-carbon economy

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions – comprising hardware, software, and broadband and wireless technologies – can enable people and businesses to make more energy-efficient choices and reduce environmental impact by:

  • Providing connectivity to make things “smarter”
  • Improving transportation and distribution systems
  • Managing business remotely and in real-time
  • Moving work to people rather than people to work
  • Connecting rather than traveling
  • Connecting people to the “knowledge economy” through e-learning, e-health, business and agricultural initiatives

The Global e-Sustainability Initiative’s (GeSI) SMARTer2030 report finds that the increased use of ICT can enable a 20% reduction of global CO2 emissions by 2030, holding emissions at 2015 levels, and an avoidance of 12.08 Gigatonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) of GHG emissions. This translates into a benefit 9.7 times higher than ICT’s own footprint in the same period. ICT also has the potential to generate over $11 trillion in economic benefits by 2030. ICT will connect 2.5 billion extra people to the “knowledge economy” by 2030, giving 1.6 billion more people access to healthcare and half a billion more people access to e-learning tools.

AT&T Products and Solutions

AT&T offers several ICT products that have the ability to create efficiencies and environmental savings. We are working with Carbon Trust and BSR to establish a methodology for measuring the environmental benefits enabled by these products. This is part of our efforts to meet our “10x” goal – to enable carbon savings 10 times the footprint of our operations by enhancing the efficiency of our network and delivering sustainable customer solutions.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) can be defined as the connection of everyday objects and machines so that they work seamlessly together across modern networks. AT&T is helping our customers transform their businesses with IoT by providing the services and platforms that cover the entire technology value chain, from devices and connectivity to platforms and applications.

At AT&T, we help companies of every size develop IoT solutions to lower costs, gain efficiencies and improve competitive advantage. An estimated 20 billion “things,” ranging from sensors in cars and traffic lights to utility meters and household appliances will be sharing data over the internet by 2020. 

AT&T IoT solutions are focused in 4 main verticals: 

Smart Cities

AT&T is helping make cities smarter by delivering IoT solutions that offer proven capabilities to engineer and manage large, complex ecosystems. We focus on cites because by 2030, almost 60% of the world’s population will live in cities. These cities currently account for 60-80% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions on Earth.i We see cities as a significant opportunity where technology can be applied to help address economic, social and environmental issues. AT&T is helping to make cities cleaner, safer and stronger by providing connectivity and introducing new tech solutions.

In early 2016, our dedicated Smart Cities organization launched a Smart Cities framework to help cities implement solutions that will allow them to better meet the needs of citizens and the environment. We are bringing our Smart Cities framework to several initial spotlight communities: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Chapel Hill (NC), Montgomery County (MD), Miami-Dade County (FL) and Portland (OR). We will also team with local universities, such as the Georgia Institute of Technology, to study the impact of our solutions.

We’re also working to provide city officials with solutions for monitoring city resources and performance. In particular, we’ve created a new digital dashboard, the Smart Cities Operation Center (SCOC). The SCOC provides a high-level view of how assets are performing in near real-time. City officials can keep tabs on power outages, water leaks, traffic issues and more – all from one location. Miami-Dade County is the first city to launch our SCOC.

Learn more about how AT&T is using IoT solutions in smart cities.


Telecommuting can help businesses cut carbon emissions, and it offers a variety of benefits for both companies and employees. It can improve:

  • Job recruitment, by improving a company's attractiveness to prospective employees
  • Access to non-traditional workers, by eliminating distance and commuting as barriers to employment
  • Job satisfaction
  • Work/life balance
  • Real estate efficiency

Related to telecommuting is teleworking, or the ability to work virtually from anywhere. Teleworking is a vital component in preparing our nation for responding to unexpected events that prevent workers from reaching their traditional office environment such as natural disasters, outbreaks of disease or terrorist incidents.

We offer a variety of innovative solutions to facilitate flexible working, including remote access, and conferencing and collaboration services. These technologies can help reduce travel and increase productivity by enabling employees to communicate and collaborate from virtually anywhere.

Learn more about how AT&T uses flexible working arrangements in its own operations and how AT&T’s Unified Communications (UC) solutions can be used to establish telecommuting and teleworking programs.  

Videoconferencing Solutions

With a focus on providing an integrated and cohesive collaboration experience that embraces mobility, video, and cloud technologies, AT&T’s latest video conferencing solutions have evolved from traditional immersive room-based systems and infrastructure, to a pervasive video conferencing and collaboration solution based on the AT&T Conferencing with Cisco WebEx and Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution from AT&T platforms.

AT&T’s cloud-enabled collaboration meeting rooms further expand the capability to meet whenever and wherever, virtually and seamlessly, by allowing a wide variety of video endpoints to join a meeting, share and work together. Legacy investments in traditional room-based systems are not lost, as those dedicated video conferencing locations can now connect with participants on mobile devices and personal computers – magnifying the opportunity to reduce the expense, productivity drains, and environmental impact of traditional travel.

Digital Life

AT&T’s Digital Life is an all-IP wireless home automation and security system that allows customers to manage their home by performing tasks such as remotely monitoring and controlling lighting and thermostat controls, smoke detectors and water sensors from multiple devices, including smartphones, tablets and laptops. While increasing comfort and security in the home, the system also provides potential environmental benefits and allows users to better manage resource use.

Visit the AT&T Digital Life website.

Fleet Management

AT&T is one of the largest U.S. wireless providers of fleet management solutions for commercial truck and van fleets. AT&T’s technician vehicles are equipped with similar solutions, and optimizing our fleet operations is a crucial component to making real changes. We use best practices to efficiently manage our fleet every day, and we continue to explore new ways to reduce fuel use and drive fewer miles. Our efforts include:

  • Automated vehicle maintenance alerts and proactive monitoring of tire pressure, oil changes and idling
  • Behavior-changing tools will be deployed as necessary to improve driver- and vehicle efficiency.
  • GPS routing technology will be deployed where our fleet can identify improvements that have significant impacts on our gallons used per truck roll.
  • AT&T’s idling reduction policy discourages excessive and unnecessary idling.

Read more about these solutions at our wireless and enterprise business sites

Smart Utilites

Smart utilities provide the potential for real time access to utility data by customers and service providers. These grids allow for two-way communication between the utility provider and end points in the distribution system, including meters at the home or business.

Smart utilities can:

  • Enable utilities to read meters remotely without sending technicians
  • Provide utilities with the ability to remotely connect, disconnect and reconnect service for customers (e.g., moving homes or non-payment/reinstatement), thereby reducing emissions and saving time and money related to dispatching a truck
  • Enable utilities to offer faster and easier outage identification and response, or correct problems before they lead to outages
  • Give customers real-time usage information to adjust their energy or water use, potentially saving customers money, allowing the grid to reduce usage during peak times and possibly reducing the number of new power plants that must be built
  • Provide utilities with the ability to effectively integrate alternative and sustainable energy resources into their networks, potentially saving money and reducing carbon emissions and water use

AT&T connects people and data by providing broadband, wireless technology and security features. This technology will be critical to the modernization of our nation’s utilities.

For more information, visit

Promoting ICT'S Role

We work with several groups to publicly promote the use of technology to address climate and resource challenges, including industry groups like GeSI and the Alliance for Telecommunication Industry Solutions and organizations like BlueGreen Alliance and BRT.


We actively participate in GeSI, an organization that brings together leading ICT companies – including telecommunications service providers and manufacturers as well as industry associations – and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) committed to achieving sustainability objectives through innovative technology.

Through the GeSI organization, AT&T participates in projects and activities centered in GeSI’s 3 primary focus areas:

  • Climate change (e.g., energy efficiency, SMARTer 2030 report sponsorship, ICT key performance indicators)
  • Supply chain (e.g., conflict minerals)
  • Human rights

Alliance for Telecommunication Industry Solutions (ATIS) 

AT&T is a member of ATIS, the North American telecommunications standards development organization. AT&T initiated the creation of the Telecommunications Energy Efficiency (TEE) committee, which developed a methodology for measuring and reporting the energy efficiency of telecommunications equipment and radio base stations. The TEE has developed and published individual standards for servers, transport, routers and Ethernet switch products, and has issued a technical report for measuring facility energy efficiency. AT&T has incorporated many of these energy efficiency reporting requirements into our network equipment standards. We are working with our major network suppliers to establish goals to improve the efficiencies of next-generation network equipment using the Telecommunications Energy Efficiency Ratio (TEER) metric. We are already seeing results collaborating with strategic network suppliers with TEER baselines and goals in our agreements.

BlueGreen Alliance 

AT&T is a member of BlueGreen Alliance (BGA), an organization that brings together the nation’s largest unions and environmental organizations. BGA actively promotes steps for building a cleaner, fairer and more competitive American economy.

BGA advocates the growth in the number and quality of jobs in the clean economy by “expanding a broad range of industries, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, the substitution of safer, cleaner chemicals, modern transportation systems and advanced vehicle technology, domestic manufacturing, high-speed internet and a smart, efficient electrical grid, green schools and other public buildings, improving our nation’s water infrastructure, recycling and sustainable agriculture.ii

Business Round Table (BRT) 

AT&T is a member of BRT’s Energy and Environment committee. The committee oversees issues including energy efficiency, energy generation, transmission and distribution, renewable energy, climate change and sustainability. The committee believes that “access to reliable, affordable energy undergirds U.S. national and economic security, and a clean, healthy environment is essential for economic prosperity now and for future generations.” Business Roundtable supports policies that “capitalize on America’s strengths in technology and energy diversity to maximize U.S. energy options and preserve environmental quality,” and states that “the business community has a special obligation to step forward and help build an environmentally and economically sustainable future.iii

CDP and Issue Briefs

See our annual response to the CDP to see how our company manages climate change risks and opportunities. Our issue briefs also contain information on how we manage the following climate-related topics:

iUnited Nations:



Updated on: Feb 8, 2018