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Stepping up to meet the challenge of climate change

Telstra News

Posted on December 19, 2019

4 min read

Climate change – two words that mean so much for our future and for the generations that come after us. Here’s what we’re doing to make a difference.

As the largest telco in Australia, our network provides a critical platform to support the digital economy of the country.  And with governments, companies, communities and our customers embracing digital technology more broadly, we’re seeing more demand for capacity, faster speeds and greater coverage. Data volumes are increasing 30-50 per cent each year.  This in turn requires greater resources and power to drive our network putting pressure on our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Through the use of digital technologies utilising our network, many of our customers are reducing their emissions.  Similarly, we’re also very focused on reducing our own GHG emissions.

For example, by June this year, we’d reduced our carbon emissions intensity by 40 per cent since 2017 and we’re on track to get them down by 50 per cent in June next year. We’ve also managed modest reductions in our absolute emissions, down 6 per cent since FY17 despite the demand for data continuing to grow. You can read more about our progress in the Sustainability Report.

Earlier this year, we were recognised by CDP’s Global Climate Change Index as one of three Australian companies to receive an A rating for our actions to improve our environmental performance.

But, there’s more we can do and we are committed to continuing to challenge ourselves because climate change is one of the most significant global issues facing us today.  At Telstra we know we have a responsibility to help meet the challenges climate change presents.

Position statement

Since we released our position statement in 2015, just before the Paris Agreement, a lot has shifted in the climate change space – and so have we.  We are in the process of updating our position statement to be stronger and clearly set out our position on key issues impacting us today.  This will also include updating our GHG emissions targets before they expire mid next year.  It will also include our commitment to achieving net zero GHG emissions by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement.

Solar farm - Emerald Solar Park
Courtesy of Emerald Solar Park

Belong Carbon Neutral certification

Today we are proud to announce that Belong, our challenger brand, has become the first Australian telco to be certified Carbon Neutral under the Climate Active initiative, underpinned by the Australian Government. For all GHG emissions associated with its operations and products, Belong will invest in certified carbon offset projects which will remove an equivalent volume of GHG emissions from the atmosphere.

As we look for more ways to reduce our impact on the environment, we will be able to use our experience with Belong to help our broader company consider how we can reduce our emissions.

Industry review

We have also been conducting a review of our industry and broader business associations to better understand their position on climate change and their commitments to improvement.

Through our review we have found that, in the majority of cases, our position and that of our industry associations are aligned and where they are not these differences are relatively minor.  There are also some differences in the way associations act or talk about climate change.  We are engaging with associations to address any differences in our positions and if we think any of our industry associations aren’t aligning with what the science is telling us we will consider the future of the relationship.  In the meantime, we do believe we’ll be more effective at driving change from within.

Specifically, we will engage directly with the Business Council of Australia as we found some discrepancies where they have deviated from their policy in the way they speak and act.