Mobile firms in race towards net zero carbon emissions by 2050

On Tuesday, April 20, the world marked Earth Day where US President Joe Biden led world pledging ambitious carbon emission goals that would call for transformative change in economies and the way of life.

At the same time, the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) released its first-ever annual report, Mobile Net Zero – State of the Industry on Climate Action 2021.

The industry’s maiden analysis of how the mobile sector is planning to achieve an ambitious target – be net-zero by 2050 is part of the UNs campaign, race to zero, which rallies leadership and support from all non-state actors for a healthy, resilient, zero-carbon recovery.

All members are committed to cutting emissions in half by 2030 and attaining net-zero emissions by 2050.

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Led by the high-level climate champions for climate action, race to zero rallies non-state actors to join the climate ambition alliance.

Mobile companies, which cover half of global mobile connections and command 65 per cent of industry revenues, have now committed to the science-based targets, says the report.

Slightly over a third of the mobile industry players by revenue and 31 per cent of the mobile industry by connections have committed to net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier through the UN race to zero drive.

Last year, about 60 mobile operators offering 69 per cent of global mobile connections and 80 per cent of revenue published their climate impacts, risks and opportunities with the carbon disclosure project.

Across the world, fifth generation (5G) networks are wired with network energy efficiency in mind. The specification calls for 90 per cent cut in the energy used to transfer each bit of data.

Telecommunications major, Safaricom, launched the 5G network in Kenya recently and is currently setting up masts in various sites across the country.

Locally, with 5G being one indicator of compliance, Safaricom, which was among the operators mentioned in the report, is on the path to cutting emissions and becoming a net-zero compliant company by 2050.

According to Safaricom’s Sustainability Report, by the end of last year, the company was at 9 per cent reduction in carbon footprint.

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This feat was attributable to ongoing partnerships with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) as well as community groups to plant five million trees within five years, ensuring emissions are offset through reforestation.

The company believes the project will counterbalance 26 per cent of our carbon emissions once the trees are mature.

Further, plans are underway in Safaricom to lower carbon footprint in its supply chain by opting for the sea instead of the air when it comes to shipping of goods.

The carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions of sea freight is a fraction of the air cargo. The telco’s procurement policy now states that air freight should only be used if there is no viable alternative option.

As an increasing number of business leaders and organizations are acknowledging, the future growth and resilience of successful companies will be determined by their ability to navigate the global shift to a low-carbon, clean-technology-based economy.

Safaricom, which as member of GSMA, is also working on areas that amplifies energy efficiency, promotes use of alternative clean energy sources even as they manage electronic waste better.

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