New communications technologies have created a more connected world, fundamentally changing how we live and work. This has profound implications for the environment and how we address challenges such as climate change and low carbon growth as detailed in Telstra’s Environment Strategy.

The explosion of next generation technologies – from smart networks to smart devices, personalised apps to social media – has created a digital world that for most of us was probably unthinkable just 10 years ago.

New technologies offer the opportunity to help address some of today’s most pressing social and environmental challenges, from providing healthcare solutions via teleconference in regional and remote locations to reducing carbon emissions by helping people meet virtually without the need for travel.

Our Environment Strategy is based on maximising these opportunities to deliver improved environmental outcomes while also driving improved efficiency and productivity.

As a company we can take a leading role in enabling low carbon growth through the products and services we provide to our customers. Our technology can help Australia’s governments, businesses and consumers reduce energy consumption, costs and carbon emissions.

In a report we released earlier this year, Connecting with a Low Carbon Future, we highlight seven opportunities for information and communications technology (ICT) innovation that if realised could save businesses and consumers up to $8.1 billion per year in energy and travel costs, while cutting national carbon emissions by a staggering 4.7 per cent.

At Telstra, our largest environmental impact remains the emissions associated with the energy used in our network. We have a three year target to improve carbon emissions intensity by 55% from a baseline year of the 2014 financial year. For us, carbon emissions intensity means tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per terabyte of data.

Finding ways to minimise energy costs, reduce our carbon footprint and lay the foundations for low carbon growth has been the starting point of a more proactive, integrated and strategic approach to the environment. Our Environment Strategy has three focus areas:

Operational excellence

Operational excellence is about actively indentifying and minimising our environmental impacts. Our focus is on doing things more efficiently. This not only reduces our impacts, but delivers real business benefits in the form of reduced operating costs.

Creating an Environmental Customer Value Proposition (ECVP)

Helping our customers transition to a low carbon future with an immediate focus on our enterprise and government customers by embedding environmental considerations into the development of our products and services.

Sustainable supply chain

Working with and influencing our suppliers to manage and reduce the environmental and social impacts of their operations and of the products and services they provide to Telstra.

You can find out more about the progress we’ve made in the Environmental Stewardship chapter of our Bigger Picture 2014 Sustainability Report.

As an industry, telecommunications is remarkably positioned as a genuine enabler of low carbon growth both now and into the future. We are excited by this opportunity at Telstra and we are seeking to be more proactive and strategic in the way in which we see environmental risk and opportunity. Our ambition is to be a genuine environmental leader.