AT&T Issue Briefs

Our issue briefs provide additional details on topics identified as most important by our stakeholders. View all the issue briefs on the Reporting Library for a comprehensive overview or choose an issue in the drop-down menu.


Global Reporting Initiative Standard Disclosures
Climate change & greenhouse gas emissions MA; 
102-56; 305-1; 305-2; 305-3; 305-4; 305-5

Global Reporting Initiative Standard Disclosures
102-56; 305-1; 305-2; 305-3; 305-4; 305-5; Greenhouse gas emissions MA

Stakeholder Engagement Topics
Climate change & GHG emissions

Stakeholder Engagement Topics
Climate change & GHG emissions



Our Position


We’re committed to measuring our GHG emissions and taking steps to reduce them.


2020 Key Performance Indicators
U.S. carbon footprint (Scopes 1, 2 & 3 in metric tons [MT] CO₂ equivalent [CO₂e])¹
Global carbon footprint (Scopes 1, 2 & 3 in MT CO₂e)¹
Greenhouse gas emissions intensity (Scopes 1 & 2 in MT CO₂e/$ billion of revenue)
Greenhouse gas emissions intensity (Scopes 1 & 2 in MT CO₂e/1,000 subscribers)²


Carbon footprint does not include supplier emissions.

From 2016 to 2019, we defined our greenhouse gas emissions intensity as the greenhouse gas emissions of our company (numerator) relative to data traffic on our network (denominator), including satellite traffic. After achieving our 2020 water and energy intensity goals in 2019, we have transitioned to intensity metrics relative to our total number of subscribers (North America wireless, wireline voice and domestic broadband) as identified in our 2020 Annual Report.






Our Goals



TOPIC: GHG Emissions



2020 TARGET: Reduce our Scope 1 GHG emissions 20% using a 2008 baseline of 1,354,054 metric tons of CO2e.



PROGRESS: Reduced 22.8%.

Our reported Scope 1 emissions were 1,044,751 metric tons of CO2e in 2020. We exceeded our target, and this represents a 22.8% reduction compared to our 2008 baseline. Year over year, our Scope 1 GHG emissions are up 5.4% from 2019, as the result of our 2020 decision to begin reporting all refrigerants as in-scope.



TOPIC: Fleet Management



2020 TARGET: Reduce the GHG emissions of our U.S. fleet 30% from our 2008 baseline of 865,777 metric tons (MT) CO2e.



PROGRESS: Reduced 38.4%.

We exceeded our target and, through the end of 2020, AT&T reduced U.S. ground fleet emissions by 332,658 metric tons of CO2e or 38.4% from our 2008 baseline. In addition to reducing the size of our domestic fleet by more than 8 thousand vehicles, 81% of passenger sedans procured for our domestic fleet since 2019 are hybrid vehicles.



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 nongovernment 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



2030 TARGET: Reduce our absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 3 3 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 (against 2015 baseline) – aligning with a 1.5°C pathway.



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 emissions3) 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 totaled 72.4 million metric tons of CO2e – achieving approximately 7% of our gigaton goal.




Our Action

We’ve been measuring and disclosing our GHG emissions annually since 2008. In 2020, we committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2035 across our entire global operations. We will achieve net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions3 through steps such as accelerating network optimization and energy efficiency projects, virtualizing many network functions, expanding sustainable media production, and scaling our renewable energy use.

Additionally, in 2019, we set science-based targets (SBT) to reduce our GHG emissions in line with international consensus on limiting global temperature increases to 2°C. Our targets were approved in 2020 by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) – a joint effort of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and World Resources Institute (WRI). Recognizing the urgent need for progress on emissions, AT&T has increased its ambition to align with a 1.5°C pathway. Our new, SBTi-approved goals are to:

  • Reduce our absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 63% by 2030 (against the 2015 baseline). Since 2015, we have reduced Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 37% and are currently ahead of our timeline to achieve our target by 2030.
  • Work to ensure that 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 2020, 40% of our suppliers have set such targets.

Since the majority of our emissions are tied to energy use, we aim to meet these targets by optimizing energy use in our facilities and networks, purchasing renewable energy, and engaging our key suppliers to encourage emissions reductions upstream. Read more in our Energy Management issue brief.

The AT&T Implementation, Provisioning and Optimization team oversees numerous aspects of our business that impact GHG emissions, including our energy efficiency and energy conservation measures, decommissioning activities, and renewable energy programs and purchases. Other measures impacting our emissions – such as our fleet, employee travel and expense policies – are managed within distinct departments in accordance with organizational directives and procedures.

We evolve our GHG emissions management program and reporting tools to keep pace with the changing landscape and scope of our company – as well as with relevant standards, protocols and best practices. We work with an integrated energy services provider to compile, analyze and produce annual reports related to our GHG emissions. The content and methods related to data calculation, estimation and aggregation are reviewed each year to identify opportunities for improvement.

We also obtain annual, independent assurance of our Scope 1, 2 and 3 (select categories) emissions, as well as select energy figures. For our 2020 reporting, TruCost conducted this assurance effort and its rigor in this process helps us realize continual, year-over-year improvements in accuracy. Learn more in the Independent Accountant’s Report.


In 2020, our combined Scope 1 and market-based Scope 2 emissions decreased 11.3% relative to 2019.



Scope 1 (Direct Emissions)
Scope 1 (direct) emissions account for 12% of our total reported emissions. 4 4 Inclusive of global Scopes 1, 2 & 3 non-supplier emissions. In 2020, we emitted 1,044,751 metric tons (MT) CO2e. 5 5 Our Scope 1 total emissions of 1,044,751 MT CO2e can be further broken down by component – CO2: 758,764 MT CO2e (758,764 MT CO2), CH4: 936 MT CO2e (33 MT CH4), N2O: 6,484 MT CO2e (24 MT N2O) and HFCs: 278,567 MT CO2e. These figures were calculated using average emission factors. While this also represents a modest 5% year-over-year increase, the uptick is a direct result of AT&T’s decision to report all refrigerants as in-scope beginning in 2020, where the GHG Protocol does not at this time require such action. 

We also met our goal to reduce the GHG emissions of our U.S. fleet 30% from our 2008 baseline of 865,777 MT CO2e. Through 2020, our U.S. ground fleet emissions have decreased 332,658 MT CO2e – or 38.4% – from our 2008 baseline. This also represents a year-over-year decrease of 65,280 MT CO2e – or 10.9% – from 2019.

To reduce fleet emissions, we are exploring several opportunities, including electrifying our fleet. In early 2020, we joined the Corporate Electric Vehicles Alliance (CEVA), which serves as a platform for companies to collaborate to increase corporate demand for electric vehicles (EVs). Through our membership in CEVA, we can work with other companies to identify challenges and opportunities involved in adding EVs to our fleet.



Scope 2 (Indirect Emissions)

We report emissions figures using the market-based Scope 2 emissions in accordance with the GHG Protocol to enable us to account for renewable electricity in our portfolio.

Scope 2 emissions (from purchased electricity and steam – CO2, CH4, N2O) account for the majority of our total operational emissions (Scope 1 and Scope 2, i.e., direct and indirect). 6 6 Our total Scope 2 market-based emissions of 4,743,507 MT CO2e include indirect CO2 emissions of 4,715,520 MT CO2e (4,715,520 MT CO2). This figure was calculated using average emission factors. Our market-based Scope 2 emissions account for 81.95% of our total operational emissions. Year over year, our 2020 market-based Scope 2 emissions footprint decreased 14.29%.

The primary reduction in Scope 2 emissions was due to additional renewable energy in our portfolio, decommissioning of network and real estate assets, and network radio resource efficiency improvements. We also implemented various internal efficiency projects, including building optimization modifications and repairs such as HVAC upgrades and lighting retrofits.

See our Energy Management issue brief for more information about our energy programs.

Scope 3 (Other 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 Environmental Protection Agency’s 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 2020, our waste-related emissions were 65,646 MT CO2e.
  • Business Travel: Our business-related travel includes air and rail travel and rental car use. It does not include rideshare and taxi use. In 2020, our Scope 3 business-related travel emissions decreased 76% from 2019, almost exclusively due to the global pandemic and its restrictions on business-related travel.
  • Downstream Leased Assets: We track emissions from the operation of assets owned by AT&T and leased to other entities (e.g., customers) that are not already included in Scope 1 or Scope 2 for the reporting year. Total emissions for leased assets in 2020 were 2.7 million MT CO2e, a 26.5% decrease from 2019.
  • Supplier 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: 7 7 Estimated for 3 categories only based on economic allocation of 2019 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. purchased goods and services, capital goods, and upstream transportation and distribution. In calculating the emissions estimates, we apply the economic allocation model. Each year, CDP receives data from the previous year’s emissions, so data received in 2020 covers 2019 supplier emissions. Given the annual 1-year lag in supplier emissions availability, those figures are not included in our overall 2020 Scope 3 emissions total but are listed in the 2019 table below. Please see our Responsible Supply Chain issue brief for further details about our supply chain efforts.
Scope 3 2019 Supplier Emissions7 MT CO2e
Purchased Goods and Services 1,195,167
Capital Goods 272,850
Upstream Transportation and Distribution 126,883