AT&T’s technology can play a critical role in transitioning to a more resource-efficient world by providing insights and solutions that can help customers reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through more efficient use of electricity, fuel and water, while helping increase the resiliency of our communities.
TOPIC: Social & Environmental Impact
2020 TARGET: Demonstrate positive social and environmental impacts of AT&T-connected devices and solutions through internal and external collaboration.
PROGRESS: Developing innovative solutions and sharing case studies.
AT&T continues to develop innovative technologies such as AI, VR and the IoT that can, by collaborating internally and externally, improve quality of life and the world around us – especially in the areas of GHG, health, accessibility, public safety, education and more. We collaborate internally and externally on these initiatives and highlight our solutions in published case studies. Read more at att.com/IoT-for-Good and att.com/gigaton.
TOPIC: Customer Greenhouse Gas Methodology
2020 TARGET: Develop and deploy a robust methodology to understand the impact of the AT&T network’s GHG emissions on society.
PROGRESS: Measuring and reporting our GHG impact.
Working with leading non-government organizations, industry groups and peer companies, AT&T developed a credible methodology to measure the GHG impacts of customers’ use of AT&T technology in an effort to track progress against our 10x carbon reduction goal.
TOPIC: Customer Emissions Savings Enablement
2025 TARGET: By 2025, 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.
PROGRESS: Enabled customer GHG emissions reductions 5.5x our footprint.
Through numerous internal initiatives, AT&T’s 2020 operational footprint decreased to approximately 5.8 million metric tons of CO2e. 2020 tracked customer GHG emissions savings enabled by AT&T reached an annualized 31.3 million metric tons of CO2e – achieving approximately 55% of our 2025 10x goal.
In 2021, seeking a more ambitious goal for the enablement of customer GHG emissions reductions, we retired our 10x goal and announced the AT&T Gigaton Goal (see below).
TOPIC: GHG Emissions
PROGRESS: Reduced 37%.
This target was approved by the Science Based Targets initiative in 2021, as an expansion of a previously approved 26% reduction target. Our reported Scope 1 and 2 emissions were 5,788,258 metric tons of CO2e in 2020. This represents a 37% reduction compared to our 2015 baseline of 8,766,803 metric tons of CO2e.
TOPIC: GHG Emissions
2035 TARGET: Achieve carbon neutrality (net zero Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions1) by 2035.
PROGRESS: Reduced 736,785 metric tons of CO2e.
Our reported Scope 1 and 2 emissions were 5,788,258 metric tons of CO2e in 2020. This represents a year-over-year reduction of 736,785 metric tons (or 11.3%) from 2019.
TOPIC: Customer Emissions Savings Enablement
2035 TARGET: Deliver connectivity solutions that enable business customers to reduce a gigaton (1 billion metric tons) of GHG emissions by 2035.
PROGRESS: Enabled 72.4 million metric tons of customer emissions savings.
We announced our gigaton goal in 2021 and will report progress annually. This goal will calculate the cumulative impact of emissions savings from 2018, when we first calculated AT&T customer emissions reduction enablement, until 2035. From 2018 to 2020, cumulative tracked customer emissions reductions enabled by AT&T total 72.4 million metric tons of CO2e – achieving approximately 7% of our gigaton goal. Read more at att.com/gigaton.
Our Climate Change Policy explains how we measure and manage AT&T’s approach to the impacts of climate change. We continually strive to reduce our energy intensity and GHG emissions, and to increase resiliency throughout our operations.
Climate Change Governance
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 provides feedback on AT&T’s climate-change-related strategies. In addition, our CSR Governance Council is led by our Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) and is composed of senior executives representing business areas linked to CSR topics deemed most material by our stakeholders – including the management of climate-related issues.
Our CSO oversees all work pertaining to climate change-related risks and opportunities and receives weekly updates on climate-related activities and developments. As a direct report to the CSO, the Assistant Vice President (AVP) of Global Environmental Sustainability oversees AT&T’s climate change-related strategy and leads our Environmental Leadership Committee, which comprises senior business leaders from across the company. In addition, members of AT&T’s Global Environmental Sustainability team track climate-related developments within and outside AT&T and communicate the most relevant issues to the CSO.
Climate Change Strategies
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 and our brand. AT&T also assesses how regulations, developments in technology, and market or reputational factors could affect our company. As climate change-related risks are integrated into our existing risk management, such risks are analyzed through our companywide internal risk management processes. In addition to identifying potential risks, AT&T is continually exploring opportunities to be part of the solution in addressing climate change and transitioning to a net-zero economy.
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.
As part of our previous commitment to purchase more than 1.5 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity domestically, in 2020 we announced agreements representing more than 500 megawatts (MW) of solar energy – making AT&T one of the largest corporate purchasers of solar energy in the world.
We are also adapting our business practices to adjust to the effects of climate change, including changes in weather and natural disaster patterns. We conduct regular analysis to help ensure our cell sites can withstand natural disasters 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 any 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.
To help build our resilience and adapt to climate change, AT&T has engaged the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory for help assessing the risks of climate change to 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 (CCAT) that will help anticipate potential impacts of climate change on our infrastructure and operations.
CCAT helps us visualize climate change risk to our infrastructure and make smarter, climate-informed decisions. Instead of relying only on 10-day weather forecasts and historical 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 – up to 30 years into the future. For example, CCAT can show the maximum projected coastal or inland flooding within 200 meters. This not only gives us flexibility of where to build but allows us to implement adaptation methods for new equipment in the event we must build where there will be future flooding. We continue to expand our use of CCAT, and upon completion it will cover the entire contiguous U.S., facilitating projections for flooding, high-intensity winds, drought and wildfires.
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 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.
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 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 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. For example:
- Remote monitoring and management of energy and transportation infrastructure can help cities and utilities reduce resource use.
- Seamless connectivity and analytics on the factory floor can reduce travel time and emissions for inspections and maintenance.
- Monitoring and remote control of agriculture operations help farmers increase crop yields while reducing inputs like water and fertilizer.
Learn more on our IoT for Good website.
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 acquire performance data from facility equipment across the U.S. We manage the data centrally, allowing us 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.
NETWORK AND 5G
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 because it enables:
- 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 turn devices on and off as needed, avoiding wasted energy
5G use cases across industry verticals such as these will be key to driving the resource efficiency and de-carbonization needed to help alleviate the impacts of climate change.
EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT ON CLIMATE CHANGE
We encourage AT&T employees to take action in their own lives to reduce their climate footprint. Our Environmental Champions Program engages employees on environmental topics to help raise overall awareness of home-based environmental behaviors that our employees can bring back to work. Elements of the program include:
- An online engagement platform that inspires employees to connect, learn, share and act
- A platform for purchasing discounted environmentally friendly and sustainable products
- A robust challenge and awards system that encourages employees to complete activities and missions that are beneficial to the environment and help develop habits that further environmental sustainability
Climate Change Targets
Committing to Carbon Neutral
AT&T has committed to becoming carbon neutral, achieving net zero Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions,1 by 2035. We will achieve this by focusing on 6 key initiatives:
- Virtualization of many network functions: AT&T is in the process of eliminating significant portions of energy-intense network equipment and relying instead on low-cost, energy-efficient hardware that can virtualize the functions of the network equipment. As a result, we will be able to deploy new capabilities faster, utilize less energy and lower our greenhouse gas emissions footprint.
- Transitioning to a low-emissions fleet: AT&T will continue to bring down emissions from its 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.
- Accelerating energy efficiency and network optimization efforts: Each year, AT&T implements thousands of energy efficiency projects across its network and operations, bringing down electricity use and reducing costs.
- Expanding sustainable feature film and TV production: WarnerMedia reduces the energy and resource consumption associated with film and television production through cleantech solutions, sustainable products, and reuse and waste reduction eﬀorts. 5 5 In May 2021, we entered into an agreement to combine our WarnerMedia segment, subject to certain exceptions, with a subsidiary of Discovery, Inc. The transaction is subject to approval by Discovery shareholders and customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals.
- Supporting the renewable-energy marketplace: By entering into power purchase agreements with renewable-energy developers, AT&T reduces our emissions footprint, hedging against rising energy costs and helping to add more clean electricity to the U.S. power grid.
- 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.
To guide our 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 – our targets are to:
- Reduce our absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions1 63% by 2030 (against 2015 baseline) – aligning with a 1.5°C pathway. Since 2015, we have reduced Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 37% and are currently ahead of our timeline to achieve our target by 2030.
- 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. At the end of 2020, 40% of our suppliers had set such targets.
Carbon Reduction Enablement
AT&T has long understood that connectivity can help our customers across countless industries meet climate-related goals.
In 2015, we established a “10x” goal to enable customer carbon savings 10 times the footprint of our operations by 2025. This goal was intentionally set as a ratio, to incentivize reduction of AT&T’s operational emissions and quantify increases in the emissions savings AT&T connectivity enables.
Through numerous internal initiatives, AT&T’s 2020 operational footprint decreased to approximately 5.8 million metric tons of CO2e. Our 2020 calculation of tracked customer GHG emissions savings enabled by AT&T reached an annualized 31.3 million metric tons of CO2e – achieving nearly 55% of our 2025 10x goal.
Our New Gigaton Goal
Following AT&T’s commitment to achieve net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2035, we sought a more ambitious goal for enablement of customer GHG emissions reductions. In 2021, we retired our 10x goal and announced the AT&T Gigaton Goal to deliver connectivity solutions that enable business customers to reduce a gigaton (1 billion metric tons) of GHG emissions by 2035.
Our gigaton goal is equivalent in scope to the emissions reduction capability of approximately 215,000 wind turbines running for a year. This goal will calculate the cumulative impact of emissions savings from 2018, when we first calculated AT&T customer emissions reduction enablement, until 2035.
Progress against our gigaton goal will be reported annually. Our initial calculations indicate that from 2018 to 2020, AT&T has tracked cumulative customer emissions reductions we’ve enabled of 72.4 million metric tons of CO2e – achieving approximately 7% of our gigaton goal in its first 3 years.
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:
In addition to efforts addressing climate-related impacts from our corporate operations, we work with several groups to publicly promote the use of technology to address climate and resource challenges. This includes industry groups such as GeSI, GSMA, the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) and the Business Roundtable (BRT).
As one of the founding members of the Third Derivative, an initiative started by Rocky Mountain Institute and New Energy Nexus, AT&T is helping scale promising solutions to spur our society toward a rapid reduction in global carbon emissions. We have signed onto the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyer’s Principles and in 2018 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.
AT&T also supports the U.N. SDG 13 on climate action. Specifically, AT&T is committed to 2 aspects of U.N SDG 13 – Target 13.1 to strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries, and Target 13.3 to improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning.