St Vincent de Paul - Vinnies
Telstra News |

How we helped Vinnies go carbon neutral

By Jules Scarlett July 29, 2020

We know that achieving real action on climate change is going to take all of us working together. Telstra, along with our challenger brand Belong, were the first Australian telcos to be certified carbon neutral earlier this year. Now we want to share what we learnt along the way.

To continue to tip the scales on climate action, we have teamed up with Deloitte to help the St Vincent de Paul Society, Victoria, on their journey to become certified carbon neutral.

Vinnies Victoria already works to build a circular economy, diverting more than 3600 tonnes of apparel and over 10,000 mattresses away from landfill last year.

It is now taking accountability for the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the operations of its stores and other charitable works. By investing in 10,000 tonnes of high-quality carbon offsets, Vinnies Victoria has this week been certified as carbon neutral by Climate Active.

On top of this, Vinnies have also committed to reducing its ongoing carbon footprint going forward.

These are great steps from such a well-respected organisation, and we congratulate Vinnies on their achievement.

We recognise that for organisations big and small going carbon neutral requires a detailed understanding of your operations, a strong knowledge of how to source ethical and high-quality offsets, and the proper governance and due diligence to ensure your commitment is leading to action. We were proud to offer Vinnies some guidance on what we learnt about this through our own certification process.

We’re also passionate about ensuring the long-term effectiveness of Australia’s carbon offset market. This is a huge opportunity for our country. By some estimates, the carbon offset market could drive $24 billion worth of investment and tens of thousands of jobs – particularly for regional and rural communities.[1]

We look forward to working with more organisations who are taking up the challenge of going carbon neutral.

Our commitment to climate has to go beyond just words to ensure that we’re engaged in real change. That’s why I’m pleased to say we are making progress on our commitments to use power sources from 100% renewable sources by 2025 and reduce our total emissions by 50% by 2030.

[1] http://carbonmarketinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/2020-Strategy-Paper_final.pdf

Albany Wind Farm near the town of Albany, Western Australia
Telstra News |

How we went carbon neutral

By Lyndall Stoyles July 9, 2020

Today we are proud to announce that we have been certified carbon neutral in our operations, receiving Climate Active’s largest certification in Australia. We’ve also become the second telecommunications business in Australia to do so behind our Belong brand, who gained certification in December last year.

This comes after we announced we were close to being certified last month, well ahead of our initial plan.

We’re continuing to work to reduce our overall emissions by 50% in 10 years and while we do that, we’re purchasing carbon neutral credits to counteract our environmental impact.

How did we do it?

As one of the largest consumers of power in the country, our certification has been achieved by purchasing 2.3 million carbon offset credits from projects that avoid, reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the atmosphere. We have also saved >13,000 MWh of energy through energy efficiency initiatives and a further >18,000MWh through decommissioning old equipment.

We have chosen carbon offset credits consistent with the Australian Government’s Climate Active program guidelines and further applied our own criteria to assess the social and environmental integrity of projects we chose to invest in. The credits purchased to meet our 2020 carbon neutral commitment have been from two project owners in Australia and three in India.

Our experience has been that it is extremely difficult to purchase carbon offsets from projects located in Australia. This is something that needs to be addressed because what it says is that there are not enough projects contributing to a reduction in greenhouse emissions.

Southern Aurukun Savanna Burning Project, QLD

APN Cape York
Image: APN Cape York

When we looked through the list of projects with Climate Active, the way the Savanna Burning Project blends traditional knowledge with technology to deliver a favourable environmental outcome made this project an obvious choice for us.

The Southern Aurukun Savanna Burning Project combines traditional knowledge – how to read country and knowing when to burn – with high-tech hardware including helicopters, fireballs and leaf blowers, to ensure traditional patchwork burning is restored in the right way and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced on Wik and Kugu country.

Greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted from savanna fires makeup 3% of Australia’s total emissions. Savanna burning projects undertaken by Traditional Owners and Aboriginal rangers reduce GHG emissions by undertaking cool, lower intensity fires in the early dry season when the vegetation still contains some moisture from the wet season. This reduces the GHG emitted from high intensity, unmanaged fire in the late dry season when the country is dry.

Community responsibility cannot work in isolation and we’re committed to also improving network availability in Australia’s Indigenous communities. We’ve delivered network upgrades on the Cape York Peninsula over the past three years, improved mobile coverage throughout the Torres Strait, and enhanced fibre connectivity to the communities of Hopevale and Aurukun, so that these communities can also access the health, education and society benefits that connectivity provides.

Telstra is also currently undertaking a capacity upgrade of the network backbone infrastructure in Cape York. Once complete, this will provide a significant amount of network capacity to support future projects across the Cape.

Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Project, WA

Following on from devastating bushfires in Australia in recent years, Telstra wanted to invest in a program that would help regenerate Australia’s ecosystem and improve biodiversity in the wake of loss.

The Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor is a native reforestation project located in Southwest Australia – a global biodiversity hotspot. The project is established on degraded, semi-arid agricultural land that no longer supports viable farming practices. It removes carbon from the atmosphere and recreates a healthy and functioning landscape, restored after decades of habitat loss and soil degradation.

Planting native tree and shrub species indigenous to the region provides essential habitat and connectivity for birds and animals to transition through the landscape. The project also delivers measurable environmental, social, economic and heritage benefits to the community, including local Indigenous inclusion and employment and support of over 80 local businesses. The reforestation is protected for 100 years by Carbon Right and Carbon Covenants registered on land titles.

Various Solar and Wind Power Projects, India

Sun shining on solar panels

In India, where Telstra has significant operations, we have also purchased offsets from two solar power projects with a number of separate solar farms ranging in size, and three wind farms.

One of the solar power projects, ReNew Solar Power, has 26 separate solar farms with a total installed capacity of 927MW and exports to the Indian electricity grid in five states of India.

These investments help to decarbonise the India electricity grid and therefore align closely with Telstra’s renewable energy power purchase agreements in Australia through the Murra Warra wind farm and Emerald solar farm.

Sunset from atop Bluff Knoll, a mountain in the Stirling Ranges National Park, located in the south west of Western Australia, Australia.
Sustainability | Telstra News |

We’re close to being carbon neutral

By Andrew Penn June 16, 2020

Telstra is expected to be certified as carbon neutral within weeks – well ahead of our initial plan.

In a recent speech on responsible business I said climate change would be the defining challenge of the 2020s. If anything, the lockdown during COVID has strengthened that view, giving many of us the chance to reflect on the fragility and interconnectedness of the planet in a period that has been quieter, cleaner, less frenetic.

Against that background, it was a real pleasure today to be invited to be part of the UN Global Compact Leaders’ Summit, a rolling global conversation involving leaders from more than 10,000 businesses and 3,000 non-business organisations in 160 countries. The big question on the table was how can we rebuild a more inclusive society for a low-carbon, climate-resilient world? The more specific question for business was what is our role? Because we do have a very big role. It is impossible today to view business as separate from society and we are rightly held more accountable than ever before for our actions. What we do and how we act matters.

Telstra is one of the largest consumers of power in the country. Powering networks on a continent the size of Australia requires something in the order of 5.9 petajoules of energy each year and last year that resulted in nearly 1.3m tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

The challenge we face is trying to significantly reduce those emissions at the same that demand for connectivity and new digital technologies is rising rapidly. That demand saw the volume of data on our network grow by 26% last year alone. It is expected to triple by 2025.

A positive impact

At the same time, this huge increase in data consumption is having its own positive impact on the environment. Increased connectivity, improved efficiency and new behaviours (a simple example being the ability to work or learn from home rather than commuting) meant connected technologies are helping to avoid emissions. Recent GSMA research estimated that in 2018, the enabling impact of mobile communication technologies globally was estimated to be around 2,135 million tonnes of CO2 – similar to the total greenhouse gas emissions emitted by Russia in 2017.

The research said the level of avoided emissions enabled by connected technologies was estimated to be 10 times greater than the global carbon footprint of mobile networks themselves. The majority of these avoided emissions result from a decrease in fuel, electricity and gas. In other words, digitisation, which is expected to disrupt all parts of the economy over the next decade, has the potential to be a key driver of low carbon development.

At Telstra, while we do everything we can to ensure our networks are energy efficient we still have a huge responsibility to do what we can to lessen the impact we have on the environment. In March this year we announced how we would meet our responsibility to reduce our emissions. It had three core elements. To be carbon neutral in our operations from this year. To be renewable leaders by enabling renewable energy generation equivalent to 100% of our consumption by 2025. To reduce our absolute emissions by 50% by 2030.

Telstra carbon neutral

Solar energy farm for renewable sun energy – Townsville, Queensland

When we committed to becoming carbon neutral in our operations this year we expected it would take us much of the year to put in place what we needed for certification. At the same time, we were also conscious that the longer it took, the bigger our impact on the environment. That is why we are very proud to announce that we expect to be certified as carbon neutral by Climate Active in the next few weeks – well ahead of our initial plan.

We are in the final stages of signing agreements with two carbon offset organisations – something we expect to happen in the next few days. In Australia, we will be supporting a project that uses the knowledge of traditional owners and Aboriginal rangers to reduce the Greenhouse gases emitted from savannah fires, which make up 3% of Australia’s total emissions. In India (where Telstra has significant operations) we will also be purchasing offsets from a solar power project with a number of separate solar farms ranging in size. This activity also ties in closely with our Power Purchasing Agreements for wind and solar farms here in Australia and follows our Belong business gaining carbon neutral certification in December last year.

Everybody’s challenge

As an organisation we are proud of the rapid progress we are making on our climate strategy. But changing the current trajectory on climate change – and meeting the defining challenge of the 2020s – will require ongoing, bold and creative action along with decisive leadership of the type on show at the UN Global Compact Leaders’ Summit. Climate change is a shared challenge that impacts our economy, our environment, our communities and each of us individually. If ever there was a moment for bolder and more significant action on climate change it is now.

Wind and solar farm, Australia
Sustainability | Telstra News |

Carbon neutral from this year, enabling 100% renewable energy by 2025, and reducing absolute emissions 50% by 2030 – we’re acting on climate change

By Andrew Penn March 4, 2020

Telstra is one of the largest consumers of power in the country. Powering networks to cover a continent this big so that millions of Australians stay connected requires something in the order of 5.9 petajoules of energy each year and last year that resulted in nearly 1.3m tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

As businesses, governments, communities and all of us as individuals increasingly adapt and adopt new digital technologies, the volume of data on our network grew by 26 per cent last year alone and is expected to triple by 2025.

The good news is many of the digital initiatives that sit behind this massive increase in the consumption of data are having their own positive impact on the environment. Sensors deployed in their millions are creating previously undreamt-of efficiencies through smart cities with connected wheelie bins and traffic lights, smart manufacturing with connected robots and tooling and even smart agriculture with connected farm gates and farm animals.

These all have the potential to achieve major environmentally positive efficiencies but, at the same time, they also drive more data requirements over the internet thereby increasing the energy needed to power telecommunication networks.

We have been working hard to ensure that this does not lead to an increase in our greenhouse gas emissions and we are on track to meet our target to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions intensity in the three years to June 2020 by 50 per cent.

However, I believe we need to do even more.

The defining challenge of the 2020s

In a recent speech on responsible business I said climate change would be the defining challenge of the 2020s. I stand by that comment, conscious there will be other issues to challenge us. Events including Australia’s Black Summer of bushfires have raised urgent questions in the community about what climate change means and, more importantly, what must be done. The science is clear. Climate change, driven by greenhouse gas emissions, is creating risks that impact our economy, our environment, our communities and each of us individually.

I also said that it can be popular to comment on what others should be doing, particularly government. However, what I am more interested in is what we are doing at Telstra and what I am doing to make a difference as an individual. There is a collective and increasing sense of responsibility and urgency to act. Everyone has a role to play. The biggest risk to climate change is believing it’s someone else’s problem to fix.

Against this background, we are today announcing a significant acceleration in our response to reducing our impact on climate change.

Simply put, we have three key goals:

1. To be carbon neutral in our operations from this year, 2020 – This means that we have to build on the great work we have already been doing to improve the efficiency of our energy consumption in our networks through the implementation of more efficient infrastructure and counteract the balance of emissions from our business via investment in carbon offsets. Offsets will be sourced largely from renewable energy projects both in Australia and the countries where we operate. This also builds on the certification last year of our sub-brand Belong as Australia’s first carbon neutral telco.

2. To be renewable leaders by enabling renewable energy generation equivalent to 100 per cent of our consumption by 2025. In an inter-connected energy grid, new renewable generation has the effect of decarbonising the grid for everyone. To support this, by 2025 Telstra will own or contract renewable energy generation in Australia and our other business locations for output equivalent to 100 per cent of the energy we consume in all of our operations, including our networks, buildings and data centres by 2025. This will have the effect of helping to decarbonise the Australian electricity grid for Telstra and everyone else. It builds on our work to date in underwriting Australian renewable energy generation via Power Purchase Agreements including solar and wind projects. We will continue to invest in Australia and also tap into offshore certificate markets.

3. Reduce our absolute emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2030, an ambitious target based on our commitment to the Paris Agreement that we announced last year and consistent with the associated ICT sector ambition. We will achieve this reduction through a range of initiatives including increasing investment in our energy efficiency program, advancements in new technology, building climate change considerations into long term business planning as well as the progressive decarbonisation of the electricity grid as the uptake of renewables grows.

We recognise that we do not have all of the answers on how we will achieve this but our intent is clear, our ambition is set and we are committed to achieving it.

To deliver against these ambitious and important goals, there are five key areas we are focusing on.

First – we will lead by example. We will hold ourselves to account in terms of our own targets and the support we offer other businesses on their climate emission management journeys. We also want to contribute to the broader discussion on climate, adding our technical expertise and advocacy to a discussion that is factual, science-based and focussed on supporting outcomes that accelerate carbon emission reduction.

Second – we will actively reduce our emissions on an absolute basis. We have reviewed the sources of our emissions and have scoped a major program of work to reduce our energy consumption over the next decade. This includes upgrading inefficient equipment and accelerating decommissioning of equipment that is no longer needed.

Third – we will drive change from the inside out including assisting our employees to understand and manage their own carbon footprint as well as encouraging and supporting our suppliers on their own de-carbonisation journeys and will reach out to our top 100 suppliers to identify opportunities to drive emissions reduction.

Fourth – in order to maximise the positive role we can play in decarbonising the Australian economy, we will enable our customers and the community by providing lower greenhouse gas emissions products and services as well as investing in energy and emissions management initiatives. This builds on our work to date in enabling other major corporates to access renewable Power Purchase Agreements.

Fifth – climate change will continue to impact on our business and the resilience of our networks and services will remain a top priority. Our customers rely on us to keep them connected with the best technology and the best experience on the best network and we will continue to focus on that responsibility while addressing climate concerns. That is our purpose – to build a connected future so everyone can thrive.

A solid base

Our goals around climate change are ambitious but we are not starting from scratch. Telstra has already contracted significant renewable generation and, in doing so, has supported the construction of major renewable energy projects. Our sub-brand Belong also became Australia’s first carbon neutral telco last year.

Only last month we were named as one of only six Australian companies and among 179 globally to be A-listed on the Carbon Disclosure Project Global Climate Change Index. This recognition came from our work to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions intensity, which fell 24 per cent in FY18 with absolute emissions reducing 4 per cent. It also recognised our investments in a 226 MW wind farm through a consortium power purchase agreement and the many energy efficiency projects we have delivered.

Our core services have already had a decarbonising impact on the Australian economy for decades, with connectivity creating the ability to work remotely and in transit, driving business efficiencies and reducing physical transport needs across the broader economy.

We are proud of these actions but they are nowhere near enough in the context of the climate challenge we are facing. Changing the current trajectory on climate change – and meeting the defining challenge of the 2020s – will require bold and creative action along with decisive leadership and determination.

The time for that action is now.

Appendix: our existing climate position

  • For the last 4 years we’ve been recognised through the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) for our climate change leadership and in 2020, Telstra was again awarded an A rating for our 2019 response. Only 6 Australian companies and 179 companies internationally scored A that year.
  • Telstra has contracted significant renewable generation and has registered as a market generator in the National Electricity Market for the purpose of supplying that renewable generation to the grid. Telstra is Australia’s biggest corporate grid-connected renewable Power Purchase Agreement writer. In this role, Telstra has underwritten projects (including investments at Murra Warra wind farm and Emerald Solar Park) that generate renewable energy equivalent to the energy consumption of 100,000 households.
  • Telstra has acted as the Market Generator to enable other corporates to participate in Power Purchase Agreements at scale. Our PPA activities have enabled renewable energy equivalent to the energy consumption of more than 100,000 households to be underwritten.
  • As a provider of high reliability essential services via mission critical infrastructure (including in remote areas), Telstra invests heavily in energy storage and other mechanisms to support grid stability. These investments increase the amount of renewable energy that can be generated in Australia, thus helping Telstra and other Australian companies to reach their own renewable targets.
  • At sites where Telstra has solar panels, they are combined with battery storage, and in total Telstra has the largest battery fleet in Australia. Telstra has been investing in climate friendly forms of storage and energy capacity (including hydrogen and lithium ion) for decades.
  • In 2019, Belong (a Telstra sub-brand) became the first Australian carbon neutral telecommunications provider under the Australian Government’s Climate Active programme.
  • In February 2020 the GSMA announced a landmark Science Based Target for the telecoms sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Telstra was one of 29 major global telcos to commit to the Science Based Targets initiative and set reduction targets aligned to the Paris Agreement. The GSMA (which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide) is committed to helping the mobile industry achieve net zero carbon emission by 2050.