Talanoa Stories: BT on turning ambition into actionGabrielle Giner, Head of Sustainable Business Policy at BT
Gabrielle Giner, Head of Sustainable Business Policy at BT, talks about being inspired to increase the ambition of the UK telecommunications company’s climate targets, as part of the Talanoa Dialogue at the UN Climate Conference in Bonn this May.
“The story I want to share is one about turning ambition into action.”
“I came away from the Paris Climate Summit (in 2015) thinking – how can a company like BT play its part in delivering on the Paris ambition? And I realised that what we had to do was to set a 1.5 degree science-based target.”
“We knew that being ambitious can pay off. In 2016, BT achieved our previous science based target to reduce our carbon emissions intensity by 80% on 1996/97 levels four years early and saved £220 million through driving efficiencies in our networks, data centres and buildings in the process. The business case for climate action is clear.”
“Our new 1.5 degree science based target means that by 2030, BT will need to decarbonise our business by another 87% against a 2016/17 baseline. This means we plan to change our fleet of 33,000 vehicles into low-carbon vehicles and change how we heat our buildings for example.”
“And let’s not forget one of the challenges – supply chains. BT has 18,000 suppliers and an annual supply chain spend of over £14 billion. We have a target to reduce our supply-chain carbon emissions by 29% by 2030.”
“To help deliver this, we have just introduced a new contract clause requiring our suppliers to reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption over the term of their contract with BT. And we are encouraging our suppliers to join us in buying renewable energy.”
“I also want to emphasise that there are some easy fixes and simple things to do to reduce carbon emissions – for example, switching to LED lighting, investigating how buildings are heated and cooled.”
“But climate action is not only about carbon reduction for BT. It is also a growth opportunity. Technology can help others reduce their carbon emissions and BT’s products that help customers save carbon emissions now make up 22% of our revenues.”
“Collective climate action has helped us make progress faster, scale ambition and inspire others. Businesses coming together through initiatives like We Mean Business, CDP and WBCSD creates a snowball effect and shows what is possible, inspiring others to act.”
“I would ask the parties, including the UNFCCC, to be more ambitious and raise the bar. Consider 1.5 degree scenarios. Support the demand and supply of renewable energy. Reach out to supply chains. And finally, send a clear signal for enhanced ambition at COP24.”
“We can get there by leading by example and learning from each other. Together, we can do this.”
In addition to having an approved science-based target, BT is a member of the RE100 initiative, led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP. It has committed to put a price on carbon, committed to responsible corporate engagement in climate policy, committed to report climate change information in mainstream reports as a fiduciary duty and is a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development led Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative.