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Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Materiality Assessment Topics: Company GHG emissions; Company energy use | Global Reporting Initiative G4 Indicators: EN15, EN16, EN17, EN18, EN19

Issue Summary

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

Our Position

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

Data Highlights

Targets to our 2020/2025 Goals
In Progress
  • 2015 Target: By the end of 2015, a majority of spend with strategic suppliers will be with those who track greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and have specific GHG goals.
    • PROGRESS: At the end of 2015, suppliers representing more than 50 percent of spend reported that they were tracking greenhouse gas emissions and had greenhouse gas reduction goals.
  • 2020 Target: Reduce our Scope 1 emissions by 20 percent by 2020, using a 2008 Scope 1 baseline of 1,172,476 mtons CO2-e.
    • PROGRESS: We achieved 1,035,603 mtons CO2-e of Scope 1 emissions in 2015, which equates to an almost 12 percent reduction as compared to our 2008 baseline.
  • 2020 Target: Reduce the electricity consumption of our company relative to data growth on our network by 60 percent by 2020.
    • PROGRESS: AT&T’s electricity consumption (in Megawatt Hours) per Petabyte of data carried on its network (AT&T refers to this as its Energy Intensity metric) for 2015 is 129 MWh/Petabyte. Relative to our 2020 target for Energy Intensity (93 MWh electricity/Petabytes of network traffic), AT&T has to date achieved a 46 percent reduction as compared to the 2013 baseline of 233 MWh/Petabyte.
In Progress
  • 2017 Target: Expand our on-site alternative energy capacity to at least 45 MW — more than double our 2014 capacity — by the end of 2017 and intensify our pursuit of off-site renewables with competitive financials.
    • PROGRESS: In 2015, AT&T expanded its solar capacity by 1,000 kW in California. We operationalized an additional 4,350 kW of clean, onsite fuel cell power, helping to power three AT&T sites in California and two in New Jersey. Taken all together, the estimated annual alternative energy production of these installations is 37.9MW.
  • 2018 Target: Deploy approximately 15,000 alternative-fuel vehicles (AFVs) over a 10-year period through 2018.
    • PROGRESS: As of end of year 2015, AT&T had deployed to its fleet a total of 11,257 alternative-fuel vehicles, including: 3,146 hybrid-electric, all-electric and extended-range-electric vehicles and 8,026 CNG service 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 “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 GHG emissions since 2008. These are our results for 2015.


Our GHG emissions decreased in 2015 compared to 2014, both for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.  

For our 2015 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.


Scope 1 (Direct Emissions)

Direct emissions were 1,035,603 metric tons CO2-e, which account for 11.8 percent of our total GHG emissions. In 2015, we saw a 4.2 percent decrease in direct emissions primarily attributed to less natural gas consumption (winter 2015 was much more mild than 2014), and a decrease in fuel consumption for generators. Nearly 62 percent of our direct emissions come from our fleet. Our commitment to operate a more efficient and clean fleet through alternative-fuel vehicles (AFVs), anti-idling policies and telematics is helping to keep our Scope 1 emissions minimized even while we add vehicles to the fleet. Much of this progress has been a result of fuel efficiency gained from our adoption of 11,257 AFVs deployed through 2015 and operational efficiency. This is part of AT&T’s commitment to deploy approximately 15,000 AFVs through 2018. Read more about our fleet initiatives.

A large component of our direct emissions came from the stationary engines and portable generators that provide back-up power for AT&T. 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. Generators also provide support for field operations where power is not available.

We have a goal to reduce our Scope 1 emissions 20 percent by 2020,1 using a 2008 Scope 1 baseline of 1,172,476 mtons CO2-e. We achieved 1,035,603 mtons CO2-e of Scope 1 emissions in 2015, which equates to an almost 12 percent reduction as compared to our 2008 baseline.

Scope 2 (Indirect Emissions)

Our scope 2 emissions account for 87 percent of our total GHG emissions. These come from purchased electricity and steam. We saw a decrease of nearly 7 percent on our Scope 2 emissions footprint, being driven primarily by decreases in our 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 32 percent 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 46 percent as compared to our baseline year of 2013.

Read about our energy management efforts.

Scope 3 (Other Emissions)

We continue to measure our business-related travel in our scope 3 emissions. In 2015, AT&T’s Scope 3 business-related travel (combined air travel and rental car) increased by 55 percent compared to 2014. This significant increase is due to the application of updated emission factors and calculation methodology for business air travel under the application of the updated Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard. There is an increase in business travel emissions despite the slight decrease of total air miles traveled year-over-year.

We are applying the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard for tracking and reporting Scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions. To that end, we are working with the CDP Supply Chain Initiative and EcoDesk to collect the emissions from our top suppliers. Read more about our efforts to engage our supply chain.

As a result of these efforts, in 2015 we were able to estimate three scope 3 supplier emissions categories: purchased goods and services, capital goods, and upstream transportation and distribution. This year we’ve been able to add an additional supplier emission category: the estimates for upstream transportation and distribution are based on 2014 supplier emissions and supplier spend data using an economic allocation model. We continue to work with an outside auditing firm 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 lag in supplier emissions availability, we are not including them in the overall 2015 scope 3 emissions total.

For additional detail about AT&T’s GHG emissions, please see our Methodology and Process Detail document.

Scope 3 2014 Supplier Emissions mtons CO2-e
Purchased Goods and Services* 2,232,264
Capital Goods* 257,430
Upstream Transportation and Distribution* 125,612
*Estimated for two categories only, based on economic allocation of 2012 supplier GHG emissions, revenue and spend data

1 For the purposes of tracking progress toward our goal, we are holding refrigerants, engines and portable generators steady in an effort to align performance with actual emissions changes and avoid an inaccurate representation of our progress.

Updated on: Aug 1, 2016