How are you reading this right now? On a smartphone? A laptop, maybe? What did you do before opening it? Post a tweet? Potentially scroll TikTok, even? You’d be surprised just how much energy it takes to bring you what you’re after on Australia’s largest telecommunications network. Here’s what’s involved, and what we’re doing to make it more climate-friendly.

Powering Australia’s largest telecommunications network

In the 2019-20 financial year, the energy we used to power our network resulted in 1.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. To put that into perspective, it’s what almost 240,000 cars put out on the road in a year.

With the sort of energy we’re using to keep the nation connected, you could power 200,000 homes for an entire year. Or you could charge your phone about 134 billion times.

And the need for powering it isn’t slowing down, either. The amount of data being sent back and forth on our network grew by 27 per cent in FY20. That number is likely to be higher in this financial year, following a time where most of us moved online to work, learn and see friends during various COVID lockdowns.

We’re being open about how we use energy, and our impact on the climate, so we can show you how we plan to offset its usage.

So how do we balance reducing our emissions with a growing demand for connectivity?

Making a difference

Last year we went carbon neutral in our operations through Climate Active, making us only the second telco in the nation to do so (right behind our subsidiary, Belong).

We did it by purchasing 2.3 million carbon offset credits from projects that avoid, reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions from being released in the atmosphere such as the Southern Aurukun Savanna Burning Project in Queensland and the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Project in Western Australia.

We also integrate renewable energy through our Power Purchase Agreements with Victoria’s Murra Warra wind farm and Queensland’s Emerald Solar Farm. Investing in renewables is another key part of emissions reduction plan.

As we continue to use up our global carbon budget, carbon credits will become an even more important tool to offset the emissions of organisations as they work to reduce their own impact. This increased demand for credits creates an incredible opportunity for Australia to grow the domestic carbon market to contribute to the global challenge of climate change.

Climate change is accelerating, and the effects are being felt more harshly each year. We pay the energy bill to keep the network running, but it’ll be our kids who pay in the end if we do nothing or if we do not act quickly or strongly enough.