Our technology plays a critical role in transitioning to a more resource-efficient world by addressing the harmful effects of climate change, increasing business resiliency and improving daily lives. We must also address our own impact, which we do by setting ambitious climate-related targets.
Our Climate Change Policy explains how we measure and manage our approach to the impacts of climate change. We must continually strive to reduce our own energy intensity and GHG emissions, and increase resiliency throughout our operations.
Oversight for climate-related risks and activities rests with the Public Policy and Corporate Reputation Committee of the AT&T Board of Directors. The committee has full authority to provide directional feedback on climate change-related strategies. In addition, our CSR Governance Council is led by our Chief Sustainability Officer and comprises senior executives representing business areas linked to CSR topics deemed most material by our stakeholders.
One of the many risks climate change poses is uncertainty. AT&T seeks to better understand and address these uncertainties. We are engaged with internal and external experts to understand how we can best prepare for the risks and opportunities posed by climate change to make more informed business decisions. We also work with other companies, governments, non-profits and academia to promote technology that tackles climate change and resource challenges.
For more information on our GHG emissions and the targets we use to manage other climate-related topics, see our annual CDP Climate Change Survey response and the following issue briefs:
- Assessing Climate-Related Risks and Opportunities
To better understand how AT&T is positioned to respond to climate change, we assess the potential impacts and the magnitude of climate-related risks on our operations, including network infrastructure, our products, the company and our brand.
For example, evaluating the potential impacts of climate change on our infrastructure, including facilities, allows us to identify physical assets most at risk and prioritize how to best implement adaptation measures. We also track the financial impact of climate-related weather events and have begun to use climate-related scenario analysis to understand the near- and long-term impact of climate change on our infrastructure to ultimately become more climate resilient.
We’ve also engaged the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory for help assessing the risks of climate change on our business. This is the first such project publicly announced in the telecommunications industry and brings together insights from the laboratory’s regional climate modeling data with the sophisticated mapping capabilities of AT&T data scientists. This effort led AT&T to develop a Climate Change Analysis Tool that will help anticipate potential impacts of climate change on our infrastructure and operations — 30 years into the future.
Our new Climate Change Analysis Tool helps us visualize climate change risk on our infrastructure and make smarter, climate-informed decisions. Instead of relying on 10-day weather forecasts and historic events, we can now model climate-related phenomena like projected sea-level rise and the potential impact on surrounding cables, cell sites or data centers — decades into the future. These insights can help us better plan for maintenance, construction and disaster recovery efforts as we serve our customers and communities.
- Managing Our Climate-Related Risks
AT&T explores both mitigation and adaptation strategies when considering climate change risks. We take action to reduce our energy consumption and strive to increase the amount of renewable electricity in our portfolio. In 2018, AT&T invested in 820 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy, helping us offset our overall footprint and making us one of the largest corporate purchasers in the United States. In addition to incorporating more renewable energy into our portfolio, we are also committed to becoming more energy efficient, which leads to fewer emissions and improved power usage effectiveness ratios for our data center operations.
We are also adapting our business practices to adjust to the realities of climate change, including in weather and natural disaster patterns. To maintain the reliability of our network and keep our customers connected, AT&T has cell site standards that apply across our entire operating area. Those standards meet the requirements in all relevant jurisdictions, but will often exceed what may be required in some individual geographies.
We conduct regular analysis to help ensure our cell sites can withstand earthquakes, wind, ice and other environmental factors. We also deploy high-capacity battery backup to our cell sites, which allows them to remain in service in the event of a power loss.
To prepare our network for natural disasters, we regularly test the batteries located at every site and take steps to ensure fixed generators are fueled on a regular basis. We have developed operational elevation products and packages to allow our enclosures to be placed within flood plain and storm surge areas. Our local implementation teams have the best knowledge of flood plain areas within their markets and can determine when to utilize these measures.
Additionally, we proactively monitor potential nature-related threats to our network, employees and communities through our Weather Operations Center. Through smart construction, planning and continued monitoring, AT&T is reducing the impact of the unpredictable on our operations.
- Managing Our Climate-Related Opportunities
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions — including hardware, software and broadband and wireless technologies — can enable people and businesses to make more energy-efficient choices and reduce environmental impacts in many ways.
The Global e-Sustainability Initiative’s (GeSI) SMARTer2030 report found that the increased use of ICT solutions can enable a 20% reduction of global CO2 emissions by 2030, holding emissions at 2015 levels — an avoidance of 12.08 gigatons 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. The report also found that ICT solutions have the potential to generate more than $11 trillion in economic benefits by 2030.
Providing solutions that enable environmental benefit to customers is closely tied to our business and revenue objectives. Solutions that enable businesses of all sizes to save money and resources help AT&T succeed in the competitive marketplace, attract talent and enhance our brand.
We measure the environmental impact of our products and have set a goal to, by 2025, enable carbon savings 10 times the footprint of our operations by enhancing the efficiency of our network and helping provide sustainable customer solutions.
Our 10X Carbon Reduction Goal
AT&T recognizes that climate change is a problem — and we’re working to be part of the solution. We know that our technology can help customers reduce their carbon emissions. That’s why we set our 10x Carbon Reduction goal to enable carbon savings 10 times the footprint of our operations by 2025.
The methodology we use to track progress toward our 10x Carbon Reduction goal is based on established standards such as GeSI’s ICT Enablement Methodology and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute ETSI TS 103 199, among others. We developed this methodology in collaboration with Carbon Trust and BSR, 2 credible environmental non-profits.
We communicate our progress toward our 10x goal by highlighting examples of our technology and the related carbon savings in case studies. Through the end of 2018, AT&T calculated that our enablement of customer GHG emissions savings is approximately 2 times the GHG emissions footprint of our operations. The full 10x methodology and all our 10x case studies are available on our 10x website.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the connection of everyday objects and machines so they work seamlessly together across modern networks. IoT can enable reductions in GHG emissions, and it is one of the key ways AT&T enables products and services to improve climate adaptation and resilience. AT&T is helping companies of all sizes develop IoT solutions to help lower costs, gain efficiencies and improve competitive advantage. IoT technologies such as asset and fleet management help businesses connect disparate pieces of equipment and make intelligent decisions around improving performance while optimizing use of resources. IoT can also help address major social and environmental challenges in our world. Learn more on our IoT for Good website.
IoT plays a key role in the achievement of our 10x goal: IoT-enabled technologies represent some of the leading solutions through which we enable carbon reductions. As we calculate our progress toward this goal, IoT and the carbon reductions it can enable are a large part of the numerator in our measurements. We develop 10x case studies to highlight how our IoT solutions contribute to our 10x Carbon Reduction goal.Our IoT solutions help make cities — which currently account for 75% of the world’s carbon emissions 1 1 United Nations: un.org/sustainabledevelopment/cities/ — smarter by offering proven IoT solutions to help engineer and manage large, complex ecosystems. We see cities as a significant opportunity for the application of technology to help address economic, social and environmental issues and increase resiliency. Learn more about how AT&T is using IoT solutions in Smart Cities.
AT&T uses IoT solutions for our internal operations, as well. One of these solutions is Project iCON (Intelligent Connection Of facility Networks), which uses AT&T IoT connectivity to acquire valuable performance data from facility equipment across the country. We manage the data from a centralized point, allowing us to create performance baselines, monitor equipment status and identify required maintenance actions in real-time. This allows for significant savings on maintenance costs, as well as reductions in unnecessary energy use. Implementing Project iCON is helping to revolutionize the way we manage — and ultimately reduce — our energy usage. Learn more about how we use IoT to manage our own facilities in our Project iCON case study.
- Industry Collaboration
We work with several groups to publicly promote the use of technology to address climate and resource challenges, including industry groups such as GeSI and the Alliance for Telecommunication Industry Solutions (ATIS), organizations such as Business Round Table (BRT), and by signing onto the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyer’s Principles. In September 2018, AT&T joined the Climate Leadership Council (CLC) as a founding member. The CLC is working to promote a carbon dividends plan as a bipartisan, market-based solution to help reduce U.S. carbon emissions.
Since the acquisition of WarnerMedia in June 2018 and the launch of Xandr in September 2018, we are continuing to integrate operationally and through our CSR reporting. For this reason, information for these 2 affiliates is not included in this brief, except where specifically referenced.
More Environment Issue Briefs