Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) Report

 

 

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) provides a framework of recommended disclosures for corporate reporting on climate-related risks and opportunities – categorized by Governance, Strategy, Risk Management, and Metrics & Targets.

Inclusion of information in this report should not be construed as a characterization of the financial materiality or impact of that information. Please see our Corporate Annual Report or Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021 and other publicly-filed documents available on the AT&T Investor Relations website.

In July 2021, we completed a transaction with TPG Capital involving our North America video business – including DIRECTV, AT&T TV and U-verse – to form a new company called DIRECTV. In November 2021, we completed the sale of our Latin America video operations, Vrio, to Grupo Werthein. In April 2022, we completed a transaction to combine our WarnerMedia segment, subject to certain exceptions, with a subsidiary of Discovery Inc. In June 2022, we completed the sale of the programmatic advertising marketplace component of Xandr Inc to Microsoft.

 
“Our network is tested by climate change and natural disasters every year. We recognize the long-term impacts [our] commitments can have, and we owe it to the millions of customers who rely on our services to create the most resilient and sustainable business we can.”

 – John Stankey, Chief Executive Officer, AT&T

HTML Editor Component
*Contents may not have visible height

Board of Directors Oversight

AT&T recognizes that climate change can present risks and opportunities to our business, employees, communities and other stakeholders. The Governance and Policy Committee (GPC) of the AT&T Board of Directors (Board) oversees the entirety of AT&T’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy – including related risks, policies, programs and ESG reporting.

This oversight includes our climate-related strategy, which addresses emissions reduction objectives, consumption of electricity and water, investments in renewable energy, waste management, fleet operations and policies governing our supply chain. Members of the GPC come from diverse professional and cultural backgrounds, giving them the experience, depth of knowledge, judgment and vision to challenge our assumptions and continuously improve our work.

In addition to discussions with individual GPC members throughout the year, our Senior Vice President – Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and ESG, who is also our Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), presents on relevant topics and is present at all GPC meetings for ESG dialog. In 2021, the predecessor to the GPC (the Public Policy and Corporate Reputation Committee) held 3 regularly scheduled meetings which included environmental topics such as, but not limited to, supply chain responsibility, climate transition and ESG reporting.

The Audit Committee of the Board oversees AT&T’s compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, as well as internal enterprise risk assessment activities and audit functions which incorporate ESG risks and disclosures. The Chief Compliance Officer and the SVP – Audit Services each meet with the Audit Committee 4 times per year.  

For more information, see our Climate Change and Our Corporate Governance issue briefs, our Board of Directors Committees and Charters and our CDP Response (question C1.1b).

att-governance

Business Management

Our CSO oversees internal management of AT&T’s climate-related risks, opportunities and strategy-setting process, and receives weekly updates on climate-related activities and developments throughout the business. 

Our SVP – Engineering and Operations has responsibility for the resilience of our network, including energy and water use, and oversees the management of climate-related impacts to our operations. This includes our commitments to renewable energy, network disaster response and business continuity planning, as well as implementation and adoption of tools such as AT&T’s Climate Change Analysis Tool, which helps us identify climate-related risks to our infrastructure and operations up to 30 years in the future.

Our SVP – Audit Services, as well as our Chief Compliance Officer, oversee the integration of ESG issues, including environmental and climate-related impacts, into corporate enterprise risk assessment activities and audit functions. This includes analysis of ESG risks and disclosures, and associated processes, controls and assurance. This risk analysis has further oversight by the Audit Committee.

Our CSR Governance Council (Council) is led by our CSO and is comprised of more than a dozen officers representing business operations and management functions aligned to our most important ESG focus areas, such as climate change, emissions and use of energy and water resources. In addition to ad hoc meetings, the Council held 3 regularly scheduled meetings in 2021, discussing environmental topics such as, but not limited to, climate transition, long-range goal setting and ESG reporting. 

As a direct report to the CSO, the Assistant Vice President (AVP) – Global Environmental Sustainability oversees internal management of AT&T’s climate-related strategy and leads our Environment Committee, comprised of senior business leaders from across the company. In addition, AT&T’s Global Environmental Sustainability team, also led by our AVP – Global Environmental Sustainability, tracks climate-related developments within and outside AT&T and communicates the most relevant issues to the CSO. The team works closely with business unit experts throughout our company to implement and enhance programs and policies addressing climate-related risks and opportunities for AT&T.

AT&T’s Climate Change Policy explains how we measure and manage our approach to the impacts of climate change. We continually strive to help our customers be more sustainable, reduce our own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase resilience throughout our operations.

Our Energy Policy outlines AT&T’s commitment to the efficient, cost-effective and environmentally responsible use of energy while maintaining or improving quality, reliability, productivity and safety.

Our ESG reporting practice is led by a dedicated team within the CSR organization led by our CSO, with additional oversight by the GPC and Audit Committee. Our ESG disclosures are internally validated by our finance and audit teams, and select environmental calculations – such as energy use and GHG emissions – are externally assured by an independent third party. 

Climate-related Ties to Leadership Compensation

Annual performance objectives for our CSO, AVP – Global Environmental Sustainability and other senior leaders across our business include progress toward our carbon neutral goal, science-based targets and other climate-related objectives. Our VP of Global Infrastructure Implementation, Provisioning and Optimization – who has responsibility for our energy management team – has financial energy-saving targets which also support our sustainability efforts. 

Per our 2022 Corporate Proxy, our CEO and other Named Executive Officers have short term incentives focusing on strategic metrics such as “leadership in driving transformation across the organization consistent with the Company’s multiyear transformation initiatives”. 2021 attainment was demonstrated through “critical structure and capital allocation decisions to prioritize initiatives that restored market momentum, enabled next generation services, energized product development, and drove progress toward global emissions reductions...Consistent with our over-arching ESG objectives, [AT&T] reduced emissions through energy reduction and increased usage of renewable energy".

This means our leading environmental initiatives are considerations when determining annual merit salary increases and bonus awards for these individuals. 

For more information, see our 2022 Corporate Proxy and Climate Change and Our Corporate Governance issue briefs and our CDP Response (questions C1.2 and C1.2a).

 

Climate-related Risks

To help us better understand how AT&T is positioned to respond to climate change, we assess the potential impacts and magnitude of climate-related risks and opportunities on our operations, including physical network infrastructure; our products and services; and our brand. AT&T also assesses transition-related risks, such as how environmental regulations, developments in technology and market or reputational factors could affect our company. As climate-related risks are identified or considered, they are analyzed through our company-wide internal risk management processes, in collaboration with business units such as compliance, finance, legal, public policy and others.

The below time horizons reflect how AT&T looks at the impacts of climate change through our Climate Change Analysis Tool (CCAT), which enables us to analyze the long-term physical impacts of climate change on our network and operations up to 30 years into the future:

  From (Year)

To (Year)

 

Short-term

0

3

Medium-term

3

10

Long-term

10

30

Physical Risk – Rising mean temperatures

Summary

Time Horizon

Long-term

Description

Water is important to the communities where we operate and to our own operations. The network that forms the core of our communications business requires a controlled and cooled environment. Water is often a critical input to the cooling equipment we use, creating a link between our water and energy use. An increase in average temperature could impact our operating costs by requiring more water and energy to cool our facilities or to provide irrigation. 

Impact to Business & Management Approach

Impact to Business

  • Primary potential financial impact: Increased indirect (operating) costs
  • Likelihood: About as likely as not
  • Magnitude of impact: Low
  • Potential financial impact figure (range): $75.83 - $758.35 million
  • Cost of management (mitigation): $1 million

Management Approach

In 2021, AT&T consumed 2.682 billion gallons of water and 17.1 million MWh of energy across our operations. The majority of our domestic water consumption occurs at locations where the water usage helps maintain the controlled and cooled environment required by our communications network. 

We exceeded our goal to reduce water consumption relative to data growth on our network 60% by 2020 (2013 baseline) a year ahead of schedule. In 2021, we launched a new goal to reflect our commitment to using critical water resources efficiently. By 2030, we aim to achieve a 15% reduction (2019 base year) in U.S. water use in high- or extremely high-water stress areas.

Analysis of our water footprint shows that our water use is concentrated in a small number of facilities. Our top 126 water-consuming facilities constitute approximately 51% of our overall water consumption and many of these facilitates are located in the drought-prone southwest, making water conservation even more important. We also use water in irrigation and for general personnel use (i.e., drinking, cooking, restroom facilities). An increase in average temperature could impact our operating costs by requiring more water and energy to cool our facilities or to provide irrigation.

Since 2013, the project-related costs for water management projects, including smart irrigation, are over $1 million. We track and calculate this metric using invoices and expense tracking systems for capital expenditures. More than half of this amount (>50%) is the cost of hardware (freeze and leak detection sensors and controllers; connectivity technology and dashboards to monitor water infrastructure and use), and the remaining balance (< 50%) is associated installation expenses. We’ve seen cumulative water savings of 596 million gallons since we set our first water goals in 2013. 

We work with HydroPoint – a smart water management solutions provider – to remotely monitor & manage irrigation systems in real-time. Since 2017, AT&T has launched 133 smart water facilities with HydroPoint. In 2021, we saved 74 million gallons of water through this program.

Since our water consumption is closely tied with energy use, many of our efforts support both water and energy efficiency. As AT&T implements continued energy efficiency measures, these initiatives will also help reduce water consumption. In 2021, AT&T deployed an Energy & Building Management System (EBMS) to support energy and water efficiency at 53 additional facilities for a total of 1,030 sites deployed. Leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data principles, our EBMS is designed to help property management personnel ensure facility equipment is operating optimally. This initiative minimizes mechanical cooling needs and reduces water consumption. AT&T realized an average of 4.6% total building energy savings for larger facilities that required mechanical repairs. At smaller facilities where the building management system programming was optimized, AT&T realized an average of 3.5% total building energy savings.

Between 2010-2021, we’ve implemented more than 151,000 energy efficiency projects resulting in annualized savings of nearly 8.1 billion kWh and annualized energy cost savings of more than $733 million.

Physical Risk - Acute physical increases in the severity and frequency of extreme weather events

Summary

Time Horizon

Short- and Long-term

Description

Extreme weather events such as the active tropical storm season along the gulf and Atlantic coasts, and the unprecedented number of wildfires in 2020 across the Western U.S., have the potential to directly damage our network facilities or disrupt our ability to maintain portions of our network. Disruption to our fiber routes or other network infrastructure – including cell towers, central offices or other physical assets – because of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, wildfires, cyclones, floods or other natural disasters may impact network performance and reliability. This could lead to increased capital or operating costs for repairing damage, proactively relocating equipment or implementing network hardening solutions to better prevent future disruptions. In addition, severe or repeated impacts to our network reliability or performance may negatively impact our reputation and the perception of our brand – influencing customers to cancel services, subsequently reducing company revenue.

Impact to Business & Management Approach

Impact to Business
  • Primary potential financial impact: Increased indirect (operating) costs
  • Likelihood: More likely than not
  • Magnitude of impact: Medium
  • Potential financial impact figure (range): $0 - $600 million
  • Cost of management (mitigation): >$650 million

Management Approach

We proactively monitor potential nature-related threats to our network, employees and communities through our AT&T Weather Operations Center. 

Our network team builds all cell sites to meet or exceed local structural standards—including those in disaster prone areas. We conduct regular analysis to help ensure cell sites can withstand wind, ice & other environmental factors. We also deploy high-capacity battery backup to these sites, helping maintain service in the event of a power loss. To prepare for natural disasters, we regularly test on-site batteries & take steps to ensure fixed generators are fueled on a regular basis. 

We have invested >$650M in our domestic and international Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) programs since 1992. Investments include capital expenditures such as building mobile satellite cells on light trucks, as well as operational expenditures such as field training exercises. Through the end of 2021, our NDR organization has conducted 80 full-scale in-field recovery exercises vital to testing our equipment & abilities.

To help us plan, build and maintain our network in the face of extreme weather and long-term climate change, in 2019 we developed our Climate Change Analysis Tool (CCAT). By modeling the potential for extreme weather within our geographic information system, our industry-leading CCAT helps network engineers analyze how inland and coastal flooding, drought, wind or wildfires may impact existing infrastructure or future network builds – up to 30 years into the future.

In 2021, we continued expanding CCAT’s capabilities to generate a holistic climate change risk score for additional segments of our business. For example, in 2022 our energy management teams are leveraging CCAT data as a critical input to power resiliency planning, to support the positioning of additional Bloom Energy fuel cells in the Southeast U.S. 

Over the last 2 years, we’ve been sharing data developed for CCAT with municipalities and other organizations, to help inform climate resilience efforts beyond our network and operations. For example, our work with the New York Power Authority (NYPA) is exploring the similarities in climate-related risk to utility and telecommunications infrastructure, to help New York State become more resilient to extreme weather. This effort builds upon collaborations with additional organizations such as EcoRise and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation National Coastal Resilience Fund.

Transition Risk – Potential emerging regulation

Summary

Time Horizon

Medium-term

Description

Regulatory risks related to policies that increase in the price of GHG emissions, such as through a fuel or carbon tax or other pricing mechanism, may marginally drive up the price of fossil fuel-based energy and increase our operating costs. AT&T relies in part on fossil fuel-based resources for our fleet and to provide backup power for our network. We also purchase a significant amount of electricity to power our network and general operations. While we are working to increase the amount of renewable electricity in our portfolio, we still rely on the grid and non-renewable sources to fulfill our energy needs. 

Impact to Business & Management Approach

Impact to Business
  • Primary potential financial impact: Increased indirect (operating) costs
  • Likelihood: Likely
  • Magnitude of impact: Medium
  • Potential financial impact figure (range): $31.6 million
  • Cost of management (mitigation): $100 million

Management Approach

Effective energy management directly impacts a company’s bottom line and is an important environmental consideration. Reducing our energy usage helps us mitigate risks associated with changes in energy prices, and we have active energy management efforts underway. 

In 2021, we invested more than $111 million to implement approximately 4,600 energy projects resulting in gross annualized cost savings of nearly $40 million. Since 2010, we have implemented nearly 151,000 energy efficiency projects, resulting in annualized energy savings of nearly 8.1 billion kWh and gross annualized cost savings of more than $733 million. 

In addition, more than 52% of our Scope 1 emissions come from our ground vehicle fleet. We expect to lower fleet emissions at least 75% by 2035 (2015 base year) by implementing technologies such as IoT to maximize vehicle efficiency and optimize routes, as well as customer self-service solutions that can minimize the need to dispatch technician vehicles.

Through the end of 2021, our fleet emissions have decreased 182,975 MT CO2e – down 26% from our 2015 base year. We achieved these reductions despite expanding our ground fleet to support the build-out of our fiber and 5G networks. We’re reducing vehicle count in targeted portions of our fleet and plan to incorporate hybrid/electric technician vehicles to cut our emissions and reduce pollution in the communities where we operate. As part of these preparations, in 2020 AT&T became a founding member of the Corporate Electric Vehicles Alliance, working with other companies to identify the challenges and opportunities involved in adding electric fleet vehicles (EVs). In 2021, we formed an internal cross-departmental committee to collaboratively advance our fleet vehicle strategy. We are currently in the process of developing a Fleet Emissions Roadmap. This plan will map AT&T’s transition to EVs over the next 10 years and will lay the groundwork for needed utility upgrades, site make-ready efforts and the procurement of electric vehicle supply equipment and EVs.

For more information, see our Climate Change issue brief and our CDP Response (questions C2.1a, C2.3, C2.3a).

 

Climate-related Opportunities

In addition to identifying ways we can adapt our operations and mitigate our own potential climate-related risks, AT&T is continually exploring opportunities to enable solutions that can help our customers and communities address climate change and transition to a net-zero economy.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions – including hardware, software and broadband wireline and wireless technologies – can enable consumers and businesses to make more energy-efficient choices and reduce environmental impacts in many ways. The Global Enabling 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 GHG emissions at 2015 levels – an avoidance of 12.08 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions. This translates into a benefit 9.7 times higher than ICT’s own carbon emissions 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. 1 1 The Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) SMARTer2030 report: http://smarter2030.gesi.org/.

Opportunity – Products and services

Summary

Time Horizon

Short-term

Description

Through the sale of products and services that enable emissions reductions for our customers, we see an opportunity to drive revenue increases. 

We have long believed that connectivity can create increased visibility that allows businesses to run more efficiently. In the years since we set our 10x customer carbon savings goal, we’ve shown that AT&T connectivity solutions such as IoT connectivity and 5G have the power to reveal inefficiencies and reduce wasted electricity, fuel, water and/or raw materials, which can lead to reduced GHG emissions. In 2021, we replaced our 10x initiative with a new goal to deliver connectivity solutions that enable business customers to reduce a gigaton (1 billion metric tons) of GHG emissions by 2035.

In order to meet this ambitious goal, we recognize that we will need to invest in efforts to stimulate collaboration and innovative applications of AT&T connectivity to enable emissions reduction. To that end, AT&T formed the Connected Climate Initiative. Through the initiative, we have invested in research with leading universities to explore how 5G can enable emissions reduction. We’ve engaged independent, credible third parties to facilitate customer co-development sessions to identify opportunities for emissions reduction. And we’ve invested in communications, marketing and sales tools that help support the engagement with customers in these efforts.  We will continue to evaluate other opportunities to increase the ways that our connectivity solutions can enable our customers to meet their emissions reduction goals.

Read more about our calculation methodology, progress report and case studies at www.att.com/gigaton.

Impact to Business & Management Approach

Impact to Business

  • Primary potential financial impact: Increased revenues resulting from increased demand for low emission goods and services
  • Likelihood: Likely
  • Magnitude of impact: Medium
  • Potential financial impact figure: $360 million
  • Cost to realize opportunity: $0.40 million

Management Approach

As we identify and measure the impact of new, AT&T-enabled solutions, we are developing case studies and highlighting the impacts for our customers. Our case studies quantify the GHG emissions reduction potential that AT&T technology enables in a wide range of impact areas, such as rice farming, smart buildings, energy efficient network equipment and pipeline leak detection. Using these real-world examples allows us to turn the idea of tech-enabled GHG emissions reductions into a relatable story for other customers. We expect that these concrete examples can help engage more customers and technology collaborators to develop and sell more of these types of solutions.

AT&T has set public goals to help us seize this climate-related revenue generating opportunity, such as our new goal to deliver connectivity solutions that enable business customers to reduce a gigaton (1 billion metric tons) of greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. 

Meeting global climate goals requires immense collaboration. In 2021, AT&T applied our global reach, resources and scale to form a Connected Climate Initiative (CCI) with leading technology companies, AT&T business customers, universities and environmental nonprofits. For example, Microsoft is working with AT&T in areas like 5G, AI, Internet of Things (IoT) and the cloud to develop solutions that can improve efficiency and reduce emissions and waste. Texas A&M University is researching how 5G could help speed emissions reduction in industries such as transportation. And the University of Missouri is exploring how 5G may help reduce energy consumption and emissions from buildings

Internally, we’ve formed a “tiger team” with representatives from our CSR and AT&T Business organizations that meets regularly to build AT&T sales team expertise and customer engagement on climate-related issues, recruit new CCI partners and identify opportunities to increase AT&T revenue. In 2022, we launched a training course available to all employees, introducing CCI and explaining how AT&T can help customers address climate change.

Opportunity – Access to new markets

Summary

Time Horizon

Short-term

Description

Our technology solutions such as IoT connectivity have the power to reveal inefficiencies and reduce wasted electricity, fuel, water and/or raw materials, which can lead to reduced GHG emissions across multiple markets, including areas in which AT&T has an opportunity to introduce new technologies. AT&T is uniquely positioned to deliver many of these benefits to our customers because of our scope and expertise. For example, as of December 2021, AT&T’s 5G network reaches more than 277 million Americans in over 18,000 cities and towns. We also cover more than 16M locations in 100+ metro areas in the U.S. with fiber, supporting our ability to bring connectivity technology to more areas and markets. In addition, we use many of these technology solutions in our own operations, so we bring practical experience to our customers. 

We believe that collaborating with our customers on AT&T-integrated technology solutions can create new opportunities for AT&T to introduce technology into new industries and markets, such as Smart Cities, industrial, manufacturing, retail, supply chain and transportation.

Impact to Business & Management Approach

Impact to Business

  • Primary potential financial impact: Increased revenues through access to new and emerging markets 
  • Likelihood: Likely
  • Magnitude of impact: Medium
  • Potential financial impact figure (range): $0-$360 million
  • Cost to realize opportunity: $0.40 million

Management Approach

We have identified key impact areas that have substantial climate impact and could benefit from operations enhanced by our technology: Modern Workplace, Transportation, Healthcare, Consumer/Retail, Smart Cities/Buildings, Energy, Industrial, Food/Beverage & Agriculture. 

IoT is the connection of everyday objects and machines so they work seamlessly together across modern networks. IoT solutions are one of the ways AT&T’s products and services can help customers enhance their climate mitigation and resilience. AT&T is helping companies of all sizes develop or deploy IoT solutions that can help lower costs, gain efficiencies and improve competitive advantage. 

To capitalize on such opportunities, we work with customers to create case studies showing how our technologies have enabled positive environmental impacts. For example, our customer ChargePoint uses AT&T connectivity to scale access to electric vehicle charging stations and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to our 2020 case study, ChargePoint used AT&T connectivity at approximately 37,000 stations – enabling their customers to avoid the use of over 15.5 million gallons of gasoline, which is equivalent to almost 138,000 metric tons of avoided CO2e emissions. 

In another case study, we highlighted how a customer’s use of remote pipeline monitoring technology, relying on AT&T IoT connectivity, allows operators to avoid inspection-related travel while identifying leaks quickly – both of which reduce emissions. Our case study showed AT&T IoT technology helped decrease gasoline usage nearly 22,000 gallons and enabled savings of approximately $300,000 in fuel and labor costs.

AT&T uses IoT solutions for our internal operations, as well. To optimize energy use in our buildings, we implemented a solution that uses AT&T connectivity to obtain performance data from facility equipment across the U.S. We manage such data centrally, allowing us to create performance baselines, monitor equipment status and identify required maintenance in real time. This contributes to significant reductions in unnecessary energy use and maintenance costs. 

In addition, technological change driven by faster, more efficient networks represents a fundamental shift in how industries operate. The expansion of high speed, low latency 5G networks can enable greater visibility to monitor equipment and infrastructure, allowing for enhanced management of resources such as electricity, fuel, water and raw materials. 

For example, 5G can help reduce wasted energy and greenhouse gas emissions at a manufacturing plant by enabling:

  • Optimal equipment performance, even in spaces with many devices and connections

  • Predictive analytics to detect and address quality issues that could cause unnecessary waste

  • Video analytics to monitor analog equipment and identify an energy-wasting issue

  • Augmented reality to safely and quickly identify inefficiency-causing leaks

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning to create automated responses to ensure equipment is running optimally

  • Near real-time device management to power devices on and off as needed, avoiding wasted energy

We use case studies such as these for IoT and 5G solutions as marketing and promotional content to show the climate-related benefits of AT&T technologies and services. The case studies quantify the GHG emissions reduction potential that AT&T technology enables in a wide range of impact areas, and we expect these examples can help expand the conversations we have with our customers. 

Opportunity – Resource efficiency

Summary

Time Horizon

Long-term

Description

Water is deeply important to the communities we serve and to our own operations. In 2021, AT&T used 2.682 billion gallons of water in our operations. The network that forms the core of our business requires a controlled and cooled environment, and water is a critical input to the cooling equipment we use to create these conditions. 

We’re working to manage our own water use, and at the same time are supporting the development of water management technology for customers and other organizations. Analysis of our water footprint has shown that our top 126 water-consuming facilities constitute almost 51% of our overall water consumption. 

One of the ways in which we address our water usage is to apply our own IoT solutions, including Smart Irrigation.

Impact to Business & Management Approach

Impact to Business

  • Primary potential financial impact: Reduced direct costs through reduced water usage and consumption
  • Likelihood: Virtually certain
  • Magnitude of impact: Medium
  • Potential financial impact figure: $1.15 million
  • Cost to realize opportunity: $0.31 million

Reduced water usage and consumption; Reduced direct costs.

Approximately 51% of our water consumption occurs in areas designated as high or extremely high water stressed environments. 

For example, we identified Los Angeles, El Paso and San Antonio as high-water stress areas and currently have 92 sites located in these areas. AT&T has established a goal to reduce domestic water consumption in high and extremely high water stressed areas by 15% by 2030, compared to a 2019 base year. Progress is ongoing, and we are currently reviewing historical water consumption data to ensure its quality. We will report on progress towards our water goal after we confirm water consumption data accuracy. 

AT&T’s continuing efforts to reduce water consumption also include cleaning cooling towers and enhancing proactive maintenance and repairs, as well as utilizing smart irrigation systems. We also provide connectivity for monitoring systems to enable remote, real-time tracking and management of water use. We use these solutions in our own operations and work with customers to enable them to do the same.

We work with HydroPoint, a smart water management solutions provider, to remotely monitor and manage irrigation systems in real time. With products that retrofit existing systems, HydroPoint offers a cost-effective solution that reduces water consumption an average of 40%. In 2017, AT&T installed HydroPoint solutions at key facilities. And in 2021, we saved 74 million gallons of water at 133 locations through this program.

In 2021, AT&T deployed an Energy & Building Management System (EBMS) to support energy and water efficiency at 53 additional facilities for a total of 1,030 sites deployed. Leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data principles, our EBMS is designed to help property management personnel ensure facility equipment is operating optimally. This initiative minimizes mechanical cooling needs and reduces water consumption.

 

For more information, see our Climate Change issue brief, our Reducing Emissions website and our CDP Response (questions C2.4 and C2.4a).

 
Impact of Climate-related Risks and Opportunities on AT&T's Business, Strategy and Financial Planning

AT&T’s purpose is to create connection – supported by an expansive network woven into communities across the world. AT&T’s business is focused on working to make sure the social and economic benefits of broadband connectivity are available to everyone. Our network is tested by climate-related weather events and natural disasters every year, which is why it is important we ensure AT&T’s network is resilient in the face of climate-related risks.

As the world transitions to a net zero economy, AT&T is demonstrating leadership by setting aggressive goals and taking purposeful action through a combination of mitigation and adaptation efforts. Climate-related goals support our business strategy to pursue efficiency projects that save millions of dollars across our operations each year. By deploying IoT solutions to streamline key internal business processes, transitioning to a low-emissions fleet, scaling our renewable energy capacity and working to virtualize large portions of our network, we’re able to deploy new capabilities faster while reducing energy use, cost and emissions.

We’re also taking steps to protect our network from threats and costly repairs associated with natural disasters and other extreme weather events. We proactively monitor potential nature-related threats to our network, employees and communities through the AT&T Weather Operations Center and through the use of climate-related scenario analysis.

We deploy high-capacity battery backup to our cell sites, which helps our network remain in service longer in the event of a power loss. We regularly test the batteries at every site and take steps to ensure fixed backup generators are fueled on a regular basis. Additionally, we’ve built redundancies into our supply chain and sourcing strategies, so we are not overly reliant on individual suppliers for commodities such as fuel.

AT&T is well positioned to benefit from the transition to a net-zero economy because a key part of our business is providing the technology and connectivity needed to scale climate solutions. Our connectivity solutions can drive emissions reductions in industries that currently have large environmental footprints, such as transportation, energy, manufacturing and agriculture.tprints, such as transportation, energy, manufacturing and agriculture.

For more information, see our Climate Change issue brief and our CDP Response (questions C2.3a, C2.4a, C3.1, C3.1b, C3.1d and C3.1e).

 

Resilience and Scenario Planning

AT&T assesses the potential impact and magnitude of climate-related risks on our operations, including our network infrastructure, our products and services, and our brand. In an effort to become more climate resilient, AT&T tracks the financial impact of climate-related weather events and has begun to use climate-related scenario analysis to understand the near- and long-term impacts to our business.

To help boost our resilience and better adapt to climate change, AT&T engaged the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) for help assessing the risks of climate change on our business. This was the first such project publicly announced in the telecommunications industry and brings together insights from ANL’s regional climate modeling data with the sophisticated mapping capabilities of AT&T data scientists. This collaboration led AT&T to develop a Climate Change Analysis Tool (CCAT) that is helping us anticipate potential impacts of climate change on our infrastructure and operations – up to 30 years into the future.

To develop high-resolution, regional climate model projections for North America, ANL dynamically downscaled existing global climate model simulations developed for the IPCC 5th Assessment Report (AR5). This global climate dataset is the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 (CMIP5) repository. The CMIP5 data was regionally downscaled for a business-as-usual carbon emission scenario, known as Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5.

With this data, CCAT helps AT&T visualize climate change risk on our infrastructure to make smarter, climate-informed decisions. For example, CCAT can show the maximum projected coastal or inland flooding, within 200 meters. These insights help us better plan for optimal asset placement and allow us to implement adapted construction methods, in the event we must place equipment where future flooding is anticipated. We continue to expand our use of CCAT, and upon completion the tool will cover the entire contiguous U.S. – facilitating projections for flooding, high-intensity winds, drought and wildfires.

In 2022, we engaged a third-party agency to help us expand and update our analysis of physical and transition climate-related risks. This effort will enhance our strategic planning, and we will update our TCFD disclosure with the outcomes of this analysis.

For more information, see our CDP Response (questions C3.1 and C3.1d).

How We Identify, Assess and Manage Climate-related Risks

AT&T explores both mitigation and adaptation strategies when considering climate change risks. To help identify and assess climate-related risk to our operations, we use the AT&T Climate Change Analysis Tool (CCAT) on an ongoing basis. For example, AT&T uses CCAT to cross-reference the location of network assets and operational facilities with projected inland and coastal flooding, or overall sea level rise, decades into the future – analyzing short, medium and long-term timeframes to inform our decision-making. As risks are identified via our CCAT tool, we use such information to help plan for maintenance, disaster recovery and future construction to best serve our customers and communities.

AT&T also uses such modeling to guide our capital investment spending, including deciding whether to elevate cell towers and other infrastructure in anticipation of sea level rise, or to protect such assets with barriers. For example, we have thousands of cell towers, some of which with batteries at ground level that are susceptible to flooding. CCAT is one tool we use to help determine which towers require retrofit to elevate the batteries above an identified risk zone.

Our CSR Global Environmental Sustainability team works with network and facilities experts across our operating companies to monitor and address climate-related impacts and required actions, as well as policy changes and other developments within and outside the company. As needed, such issues and identified solutions are communicated to our CSO, other relevant organizational leaders across our business, and to the AT&T Board of Directors.

In 2022, we engaged a third-party agency to help us expand and update our analysis of physical and transition climate-related risks. This effort will enhance our strategic planning, and we will update our TCFD disclosure with the outcomes of this analysis.

For more information, see our Climate Change issue brief and our CDP Response (questions C2.1, C2,2 and C2.2a).

 

Integrated Risk Management

Climate change-related risks are also integrated and analyzed through AT&T’s company-wide internal risk management processes. 

The Governance and Policy Committee (GPC) of the AT&T Board of Directors (Board) oversees the entirety of AT&T’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy – including related risks, policies, programs and ESG reporting. This oversight includes our climate-related strategy, which addresses emissions reduction objectives, consumption of electricity and water, investments in renewable energy, waste management, fleet operations and policies governing our supply chain. 

The Audit Committee of the Board oversees AT&T’s compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, as well as internal enterprise risk assessment activities and audit functions which incorporate ESG risks and disclosures.

Our Senior Vice President – Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and ESG, who is also our Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), oversees AT&T’s climate-related risks, opportunities and strategy-setting process, and receives weekly updates on climate-related activities and developments throughout the business. In addition to discussions with individual GPC members throughout the year, our CSO presents on relevant topics and is present at all GPC meetings for ESG dialog. 

Our SVP – Network Engineering and Operations has responsibility for the resilience of our network, including energy and water use, and oversees the management of climate-related impacts to our operations. This includes our commitments to renewable energy, network disaster response and business continuity planning, as well as implementation and adoption of tools such as AT&T’s Climate Change Analysis Tool, which helps us identify climate-related risks to our infrastructure and operations up to 30 years in the future.

Our SVP – Audit Services, as well as our Chief Compliance Officer, oversee the integration of ESG issues, including environmental and climate-related impacts, into corporate enterprise risk assessment activities and audit functions. This includes analysis of ESG risks and disclosures, and associated processes, controls and assurance. The Chief Compliance Officer and the SVP – Audit Services each meet with the Audit Committee 4 times per year. 

Our CSR Governance Council (Council) is led by our CSO and is comprised of more than a dozen officers representing each of our operating companies and departments with responsibility for business operations aligned to our most important ESG focus areas, such as climate change, emissions and use of energy and water resources. The Council meets 3–4 times per year and collaborates across a broad range of initiatives, competencies and perspectives. 

In addition to the Council, we convene 5 core issue committees led by senior CSR management – including a committee focused on environmental issues, led by our Assistant Vice President (AVP) – Global Environmental Sustainability, a direct report to our CSO.

Members of our Global Environmental Sustainability team monitor internal and external climate-related developments and work closely with business unit experts throughout our operating companies to implement and enhance programs and policies addressing climate-related risks and opportunities for AT&T.

For more information, see our Climate Change issue brief and our CDP Response (questions C2.1 and C2.2).

Metric Assessment of Climate-related Risks and Opportunities

AT&T actively tracks our Scope 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions and reports these metrics annually, including a rolling 5-year view to highlight trends in performance. Scope 1 emissions include direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by the company (such as our fleet). AT&T reports all emissions data containing Scope 2 (indirect) emissions using the market-based Scope 2 calculation method, in accordance with the GHG Protocol Scope 2 Guidance, unless otherwise specified. Scope 3 emissions are calculated, in part, using supplier responses to the annual CDP Supply Chain survey and the industry-accepted economic allocation model. 

For more information, see our Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Energy Management issue briefs and our CDP Response (questions C4.2, C4.2b and C9.1).

Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Scope 1, 2 and 3

Most of AT&T’s in-scope emissions are associated with our Scope 2 emissions from purchased electricity. And most of our purchased electricity goes toward powering our network. We have seen a consistent decrease in our overall GHG emissions since 2015, as we have taken steps to scale energy efficiency projects and adoption of renewable energy. In 2021, our estimated combined Scope 1 and market-based Scope 2 emissions decreased 4.16% relative to 2020. 

Greenhouse Gas Emissions


2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

Global carbon footprint (Scopes 1, 2 & 3 in metric tons [MT] CO2 equivalent [CO2e])

11,639,219

12,035,873

10,419,308

8,614,713

7,380987

U.S. carbon footprint (Scopes 1, 2 & 3 in MT CO2e ) 2 2 Carbon footprint does not include supplier emissions. 

10,716,169

11,081,005

9,387,488

7,932,357

6,736,954

Greenhouse gas emissions intensity (Scopes 1 & 2 in MT
CO2e/$ billions of revenue)

49,956

45,383

36,012

33,700

32,846

Greenhouse gas emissions intensity (Scopes 1 & 2 in MT CO2e/subscriber ) 3 3 Intensity metrics relative to our total number of subscribers include North America wireless, wireline voice and domestic broadband subscribers, as identified in our fiscal year 2021 Form 10-K.

36.61

38.21

30.59

25.39

22.45

 

Scope 3 Emissions

Our most relevant sources of Scope 3 emissions include:

  • Waste Generated in Operations: To calculate our emissions related to waste generation, AT&T uses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Waste Reduction Model to report emissions from several different waste management practices. We delineate our waste material by corrugated containers, office paper, dimensional lumber, yard trimmings, mixed paper, mixed metals, mixed plastics, mixed recyclables, food waste, mixed organics and mixed municipal solid waste. In 2021, our waste-related emissions were 73,053 metric tons (MT) CO2e.
  • Business Travel: Our business-related travel includes air and rail travel, as well as rental car use. It does not include rideshare and taxi use. In 2021, our Scope 3 business-related travel emissions were 102,171 metric tons (MT) CO2e.
  • Downstream Leased Assets: We track emissions from the operation of assets owned by AT&T and leased to other entities (e.g., our customers) that are not already included in Scope 1 or Scope 2 for the reporting year. Total emissions for leased assets in 2021 were 1.66 million MT CO2e, a 39.1% decrease from 2020. 
  • Supplier Emissions: Emissions: AT&T works with the CDP Supply Chain program to collect emissions data from our top suppliers. This data enables us to estimate 3 categories of Scope 3 supplier emissions: purchased goods and services, capital goods, and upstream transportation and distribution. In calculating these emissions estimates, we apply the economic allocation model. Each year, CDP receives data from the previous year’s emissions, so data received in 2021 reflects 2020 supplier emissions. Given the 1-year lag in supplier emissions availability, they are not included in our overall 2021 Scope 3 emissions total but are listed in the 2020 table below.

Scope 3 2019 Supplier  Emissions 4 4 Estimated for 3 categories only based on economic allocation of 2020 supplier GHG emissions, revenue and spend data for AT&T Communications, not including content and entertainment companies or suppliers’ own upstream Scope 3 emissions. The emissions are calculated from supplier responses to CDP Supply Chain using the industry-accepted economic allocation model.

MT CO2e

Purchased Goods and Services

1,499,797

Capital Goods

182.192

Upstream Transportation and Distribution

116.591


For more information, see our our Greenhouse Gas Emissions issue brief and our CDP Response (questions C6.1, C6.3 and C6.5).

 

Goals to Support the Transition to a Net-zero Economy

Climate-related goals support our business strategy to pursue efficiency projects that save millions of dollars across our operations each year. By deploying IoT solutions to streamline key business processes, transitioning to a low-emissions fleet, scaling our renewable energy capacity, expanding sustainable production practices at WarnerMedia and working to virtualize large portions of our network, we’re able to deploy new capabilities faster while reducing energy use and emissions.

Carbon Neutral Commitment  

AT&T has committed to be carbon neutral across our global operations by 2035. We will achieve this by reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions through the following initiatives:

  • Accelerating energy efficiency and network optimization efforts: Purchased electricity and steam are a predominant source of emissions for AT&T, with market-based Scope 2 emissions accounting for more than 82% of our total operational emissions (Scope 1 and 2). AT&T is actively addressing these emissions through renewable energy procurement and the implementation of more energy efficiency projects and network optimization efforts.
  • Renewable energy: Over the past few years, AT&T has transitioned from a few megawatts of renewable energy to making purchases totaling more than 1.7 gigawatts. In 2022, we announced 2 new solar energy deals representing 155 megawatts of solar energy. As of Q2 2022, we are the 8th largest U.S. corporate renewable energy user, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and are actively pursuing additional deals. In Mexico, we’re implementing a 40 gigawatt-hours/year agreement to supply renewable energy to approximately 1,200 network sites.
  • Optimizing energy use in buildings: AT&T uses Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to drive efficiency in our internal operations. To optimize energy use in our buildings, we implemented a solution that uses AT&T connectivity to acquire performance data from facility equipment across the U.S. We analyze the data centrally to create performance baselines, monitor equipment status and identify required maintenance in real time. This contributes to significant savings on maintenance costs, as well as reductions in unnecessary energy use. Learn more about how we use IoT to manage our AT&T facilities in our case study.
  • Transitioning to a low-emissions fleet: Approximately 52% of AT&T’s Scope 1 emissions come from our ground fleet. AT&T will continue to reduce emissions from our operational fleet by implementing efficiency technology, optimizing routes, minimizing truck rolls and reducing vehicle count in targeted portions of the fleet. We’re also planning for low- and zero-emissions vehicles such as electric vehicles as they become available for various segments of our fleet. Through the end of 2021 we have reduced U.S. ground fleet emissions by 131,386 metric tons of CO2e, or 20.6% from our 2015 base year. AT&T is currently in the process of developing a Fleet Emissions Roadmap. This plan will lay out AT&T’s transition to EVs over the next 10 years and will lay the groundwork to work on utility upgrades and site make-ready efforts, as well as increase the procurement of electric vehicle supply equipment and EVs
  • Investing in carbon offsets: Though AT&T aims to reduce its footprint to as close to zero emissions as possible, there may be some sources of emissions that cannot be eliminated. In these cases, we may invest in carbon offsets in the future. We are committed to pursuing only the most credible offsets and will be transparent in our approach. 

 

Science-based Targets  

To guide efforts toward our net zero emissions goal, we set science-based targets that align with international consensus on limiting global temperature increases. Approved by the Science Based Targets initiative – a joint effort of CDP, WWF, the U.N. Global Compact and the World Resources Institute – we seek to:

Goal

Progress

Reduce our absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG   emissions 5 5 Scope 1 emissions include direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by the company (such as the fleet). Scope 2 emissions include indirect emissions that result from the generation of purchased energy. 63% by 2030 (2015 baseline) – aligning with a 1.5°C pathway.

Between 2015 and 2021, we have reduced Scope 1 and 2 emissions 37.2% and are currently ahead of schedule to achieve our 2030 target.

Work to ensure 50% of our suppliers (covering purchased goods and services, capital goods and downstream leased assets as a portion of spend) set their own science-based Scope 1 and Scope 2 targets by 2024.

Through the end of 2021, 47% of our suppliers by spend had set such targets.

 

Gigaton Goal

Following AT&T’s commitment to achieve net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2035, we sought an ambitious goal for enablement of customer GHG emissions reductions. In 2021, we announced the AT&T Gigaton Goal to deliver connectivity solutions that enable business customers to cumulatively save a gigaton (1 billion metric tons) of GHG emissions by 2035.

One gigaton is equal to approximately equal to 19% of U.S. GHG emissions in 2020. This goal will calculate the cumulative impact of customer emissions savings from 2018, when we first calculated AT&T customer emissions reduction enablement, until 2035. 

Progress against our Gigaton Goal is reported annually. AT&T-enabled customer GHG emissions reductions measured between 2018 and 2021 total 110.3 million metric tons of CO2e – approximately 11% toward our goal.

For more information, see our Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Energy Management issue briefs, our Reducing Emissions website and our CDP Response (questions C4.1, C4.1a, C4.1b, C4.2 and C4.2b).

 

HTML Editor Component
*Contents may not have visible height