Green telecoms: burden or opportunity?

I had the honor to participate at the Sustainability Week Insight Hour event in the interesting debate about “Green telecoms: burden or opportunity?” organized by The Economist.

Maya Ormazabal

Maya Ormazabal

Reading time: 2 min

I shared this discussion, about the role of telecoms in the transition into a low-carbon and circular economy, with relevant business sustainability leaders from Boston Consulting Group, International Telecommunication Union, and Telia Company.

I would like to highlight some relevant ideas that we all shared in this fascinating forum:

  • The telecommunications sector, digitalization, and technology have a significant role in driving sustainability. The telecommunications operators help other sectors to reduce carbon emissions. It´s a huge opportunity to use digitalization to transform business and reduce the intensity of carbon and promote circularity, reducing carbon emissions. Digitalization is critical to achieve the green transition.  
  • The telecom operators are doing enormous efforts to reduce its own emissions, lots of things are happening in their own businesses, deploying the most efficient technologies, sourcing them with renewable electricity and helping their value chain to also reduce carbon emissions. But there are big challenges ahead. We, as a sector have a great commitment, but we must do more. For example, industry’s incipient efforts in eco-design are already avoiding emissions and making more energy efficient, but there is still room for improvement. Business models need to be reviewed and increasing circularity in the sector is fundamental.  We can say proudly that at Telefónica we have reduced our energy consumption by 7% since 2015, and by 70% in scope 1+2 emissions, and by 27% in our value chain. Even so, we still have a lot to do, for example, regarding the use of materials, we have a circular economy strategy to become a company with zero waste to landfill, increase eco-design, reuse, etc., which are key to ac

Telefónica has been working over 20 years on the road to sustainability: since the creation of its first environmental team

  • We realised that there are still big differences at international level, there are companies that are really making major improvements, but not every corporation have the same commitment and are doing same efforts. The same inconsistency seems to be happening in geographical areas. Europe is advancing into the sustainability path with more strength, and this needs to be extended. Transformation must extend beyond European borders, for example the industry’s supply chain is global, and companies in the industry operate all over the world, and the leadership that some companies show will reach the entire industry.

Use digitalization as an enabler to sustainability

  • We cannot afford the great challenges that we have in an isolated way, we must work together with our peers for example, we share the supply chain. With this purpose we are already collaborating in initiatives like JAC or GSMA, to foster the great changes we all need concerning carbon emissions and circularity.

There are indeed great opportunities behind the green transformation. It has been a lot of progress in the last years, but acceleration is essential.


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