Climate change is a core theme of this year’s Media and Telecoms 2021 & Beyond Conference, linking to the UK's presidency of COP26 in 2021, the UN’s 26th climate change conference.
Since 2015, the Paris Agreement frames mankind’s collective effort to address climate change by reducing emissions of harmful greenhouse gases (GHG), to limit warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, aiming for 1.5°C. The UK is committed to achieve this target and seeks, alongside other nations, to reduce its GHG emissions to net zero by 2050. COP26 goals include accelerating net zero to 2030, where possible. The timing is uniquely propitious to advance on climate change because US President Joe Biden has re-joined the Paris Agreement and the multilateral effort towards net zero.
The UK, like other participants, will deliver net zero through mandatory carbon footprint reduction activities, an important component of which are businesses. This report profiles the carbon footprints of companies in the TMT sector, which are light in the case of most media companies, and heavier for telcos, which build and run network infrastructure. We highlight best practices on reporting GHG emissions and steps to net zero―where Sky stands out as leader with its ambitious and deep approach, committed to net zero by 2030, fully two decades ahead of the UK. Globally, Google has ambitions to move to 24/7 carbon free energy use by 2030.
An easy win we advocate for the TMT sector is to adopt a hybrid model for work on the back of pandemic-related work-from-home (WFH) practices, reducing office estates and commuting, permanently cutting the footprint.
The pandemic shows working from home is economically feasible in the UK, thanks to telco networks, platforms and services, disproving employers’ largely negative pre-existing views. WFH will also add value to office workers, about half of which support a hybrid model for the future. It liberates precious time from the commute, makes the office integral to value creation, and prevents carbon from being wasted. Over 80% of UK adults see climate change as an emergency requiring urgent action.