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Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Materiality Assessment Topics: Company energy use | Global Reporting Initiative Standard Disclosures: 305-1, 305-2, 305-3, 305-4, 305-5, Greenhouse Gas Emissions MA

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

2017 Key Performance Indicators
  • Domestic carbon footprint (Scopes 1, 2 & 3 in mtons CO2e): 10,694,839
  • Domestic and international carbon footprint (Scopes 1, 2 & 3 in mtons CO2e): 11,618,745
  • Greenhouse gas intensity (Scopes 1 & 2 in mtons CO2e/$ million of revenue): 54.82
  • Greenhouse gas intensity (Scopes 1 & 2 in mtons CO2e/pb of data): 66.75
  • Alternative-fuel vehicles deployed as of end-of-year 2017: 12,500+
2020/2025 Goals
  • 2020 Goal: We will continue to drive reductions in emissions and increases in resource efficiency and alternative energy deployment. 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 10 times the footprint of our operations by enhancing the efficiency of our network and delivering sustainable customer solutions.


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 CO2-equivalent (CO2e).

  • PROGRESS: In 2017, we emitted 1,048,692 mtons CO2e (Scope 1). This represents a 22.6% decrease compared to our restated 2008 baseline1. Year-over-year, our Scope 1 emissions are down 8% from the 2016 level.

2017 Target: Reduce domestic emissions of our fleet 15% by the end of 2017.

  • PROGRESS: By the end of 2017, AT&T reduced fleet emissions by 174,403 mtons of CO2e, or 20.1% from our 2008 baseline. 100% of passenger sedans procured in 2017 were hybrid vehicles. In addition, AT&T reduced the size of our domestic fleet by more than 1,100 vehicles.

2025 Target: Enhance network efficiency to enable the achievement of the net positive ratio.

  • PROGRESS: As we pursue our 10x goal, which represents a net positive ratio between our operational footprint and the carbon reductions our technology makes possible for customers using our services, we are working to enhance our network efficiency through energy management and the integration of renewable energy. Please see our Energy Management and Addressing Climate Change issue briefs for more information.

2025 Target: Deliver customer solutions to achieve a net positive ratio.

  • PROGRESS: As we pursue our 10x goal, which represents a net positive ratio between our operational footprint and the carbon reductions our technology makes possible for customers using our services, we are engaging customers to understand, measure and promote the benefits they’re achieving. In 2017, we began a collection of 10x case studies that demonstrate and quantify the emissions impacts of 2 interesting technology use cases: the connected shipping pallet and smart rice farming. These case studies can be found on our 10x website.

Our Action

We’ve been measuring and disclosing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions since 2008. Below are our results for 2017.


Our GHG emissions in 2017 decreased by 9.11% compared to 2016, for combined Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. For our 2017 greenhouse gas inventory, we obtained independent assurance of our Scope 1, 2 and 3 (select categories) 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 the AT&T GHG emissions and calculations methodology, please see our Methodology and Process document.


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 1,354,054 metric tons (mtons) carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). AT&T restated our 2008 Scope 1 baseline to include DIRECTV’s business at that time. AT&T has also migrated its fuel cell-related emissions to Scope 2 in accordance with GHG Protocol guidance. In 2017, we emitted 1,048,692 mtons CO2e. This represents a 22.6% decrease compared to our 2008 baseline.2 This also represents a year-over-year decrease of 1.45% in Scope 1 emissions.

Our U.S. ground fleet emissions are down by 3.67% (26,332 mtons CO2e) from 2016. To read more, visit our Company Fleet and Transportation issue brief.

Another significant 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 our Network Disaster Recovery operations, which work to keep wireless and wired communications flowing when disaster strikes. 2017 stationary and portable engine use was heavily impacted by the active hurricane season, including Hurricanes Harvey and Maria, as well as the wildfires in southern California. For instance, we saw stationary engine usage in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands increase by 37%, 472% and 1,564%, respectively, in response to these events.


Scope 2 (Indirect Emissions)

Our Scope 2 emissions account for 88% 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. In 2017, our Scope 2 emissions footprint saw a 10.2% reduction. The predominant driver in the reduction of Scope 2 emissions relates to completing the turndown of our GSM network. GSM, the Global System for Mobile communications, is the oldest of 3 generations of Radio Access Network technologies that were in place at the beginning of 2017. In addition to the GSM network turndown, AT&T continues to decommission network equipment in our march toward a Software Defined Network (SDN), consolidate its building portfolio wherever possible, and aggressively pursue other efficiency measures related to energy consumption and expense.3 Read more in our Energy Management issue brief.

Scope 3 (Other Emissions)

For 2017, we are reporting on several categories of Scope 3 emissions, and we have expanded our reporting capabilities within this scope to include U-verse and DIRECTV Latin America set-top boxes.

Business Travel

We continue to measure our business-related travel in our Scope 3 emissions. In 2017, our Scope 3 business-related travel (combined air travel and rental car use) decreased by 7.8% as compared to 2016. This is a moderate decrease that may be rationalized by the extension of the AT&T Business Travel Policy to DIRECTV and Latin American operations employees.

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. In 2017, AT&T increased its capability to measure Scope 3 emissions product categories and now includes DIRECTV domestic, DIRECTV Latin America (DTVLA) and U-verse set-top box emissions. In 2017, AT&T had nearly 106.5 million set-top boxes in use, with total reported emissions for the category up 228,862 mton CO2e, a 6.9% increase. This increase is from the inclusion of U-verse and DTVLA set-top boxes. 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 Program to collect the emissions from our top suppliers. Because of these efforts, we were able to estimate 3 categories of Scope 3 supplier emissions: 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 2017 covers 2016 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 1-year lag in supplier emissions availability, we are not including them in the overall 2017 Scope 3 emissions total and instead list them in the 2016 table below.

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


Scope 3 2016 Supplier Emissions mtons CO2e
Purchased Goods and Services4 1,882,397
Capital Goods4 79,611
Upstream Transportation and Distribution4 164,632


1AT&T’s restated its 2008 Scope 1 baseline to 1,354,054 mtons CO2e. This now includes a back-cast of DIRECTV’s business Scope 1 emissions for the baseline period. AT&T has also migrated our fuel cell-related emissions to Scope 2 in accordance with GHG Protocol guidance. Both actions are discussed further in the Scope 1 narrative below.

2 Natural gas fuel cell emissions are excluded from all annual Scope 1 emissions figures. The fuel cell emissions are included in Scope 2 emissions, in accordance with guidance from the GHG Protocol.

3 AT&T has historically accounted for location-based emissions in previous GHG inventories. We continue to develop our GHG accounting methods in accordance with the market-based approach as defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and anticipate disclosing this value in greater detail beginning with our 2018 inventory.

4Estimated for 3 categories only, based on economic allocation of 2016 supplier GHG emissions, revenue, and spend data, not including content and entertainment companies or suppliers’ own upstream Scope 3 emissions.

Updated on: Nov 20, 2018