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Telefónica aims to go beyond the Paris Agreement

 

This, on the one hand, makes us very proud, but it is also a huge responsibility because of the great challenges it means for us as a company. Such challenges go beyond our own carbon footprint because we have to be able to help countries in their energy transition and use digitalization as a lever for change in the economic model.

"There is no dichotomy between the economy and the environment," said Valvanera Ulargui, director general of the Spanish Office for Climate Change. During the workshop she told us that our goals will make us more competitive, better in terms of our customers, and she reminded us that we are the engine of climate change for other industries, for smart cities and also for our fellow citizens to decarbonize their lives.

Investing in climate change will generate social cohesion and progress. The estimates shared with us during the workshop by Natalia Fabra, Professor of Economics at the Carlos III University of Madrid, speak of an economic multiplier effect of 2.3 and 200,000-300,000 jobs for Spain. "The cost of not acting is greater than the cost of acting." And for Fabra, "talking about climate action is talking about business".

 

ALL ON BOARD

All of us who work at Telefónica - 1% of variable employee remuneration is linked to our goal of reducing emissions- are aware that we are part of the solution to the climate crisis. We also know that we have to start with ourselves, with our carbon footprint, and from that green network offer Eco-Smart solutions to our customers.

This is why we have committed to having zero net emissions by 2025 and to reduce our value chain by 39% to net zero by 2040. And, in parallel, we will work to ensure that our customers avoid the output of 5 million tonnes of CO2 per year. We are therefore going beyond the Paris Agreement, and beyond our own sector, which sets 2050 for climate neutrality.

Ángel Vilá: “Telefonica is part of the solution to the climate emergency thanks to our networks and Eco Smart Services”

 

In this issue, it is as important what the objectives are as how they are achieved, because along the way either we are promoting a greener and fairer society and economy, or we aren’t. For example, not only do we have to be 100% renewable, but we can go further and bring added renewables into the energy mix in the countries where we operate. As a major energy consumer, long-term agreements with power companies and self-generation must serve us to have a low-carbon network and promote clean power generation. Thus in Brazil we are contributing towards the construction of small renewable energy plants, which have benefits beyond CO2, as they minimise any possible environmental impact, encourage access to small generators and also promote employment throughout the region, often in disadvantaged rural environments. More than 80% of Vivo's low voltage consumption will be under this model by the end of 2021, serving more than 28,000 sites (towers, antennas, shops, telecommunications equipment and offices), mainly with solar energy and small hydroelectric plants.

 

TECHNOLOGY AND CARBON PRICING

In addition, the telecommunications network must also become more efficient, even if data traffic continues to grow exponentially. We must be able to take advantage of the technological revolution to make our network green, generation after generation, from deployment, to management, to shut-down. We have achieved this so far and we will do so with 5G, which consumes up to 90% less energy per byte. To this end, we will not only continue to promote innovation with our technology suppliers, but will go one step further: we will set a carbon price for investments and purchases that involve fewer CO2 emissions.   

And in how we do this, it is also important what we do with the emissions we cannot reduce, which we estimate at 10%. It will be a residual amount that we will offset with CO2 absorption projects, preferably nature-based ones that have the most reliable certificates and also seek to provide added value in the generation of employment and biodiversity.

 

DECARBONIZED ECONOMY

The great challenge - and responsibility - that we technology companies have is to help decarbonize the entire economy with those green networks that make digitalisation possible. The potential is there and we must take advantage of it.

Digitalization, along with energy, are two transitions needed to decarbonize the economy and improve our quality of life. Jyrki Penttinen, Senior Technology Manager, GSMA North America, told us at the workshop: "The Internet of Things (IoT) can contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases through the optimization of transport and travel, buildings, power networks, services, manufacturing and agriculture". This is what we will be empowering through 5G. At Telefónica we see this every day with our customers, which is why we have set ourselves the goal of increasing the amount of emissions our services reduce every day until they reach 5 million fewer tonnes of CO2 per year by 2025.

Today, we have many examples of Eco Smart solutions - teleworking, fleet management, services for smart cities, smart agriculture or smart industry... - and the use cases are multiplying. We must continue innovating, with an open approach, with other companies and entrepreneurs. And we must also raise awareness within our ecosystem, within our customers, so that they take into account the environmental benefits of digitalization, which are also economic ones, because as we have seen, there is a symbiosis, although it is not perfect yet. The future is now, and we won’t let it slip away!

 

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