April 23rd, 2019 by Joshua S Hill
Leading American telecom giant Verizon announced on Monday that it was increasing its sustainability commitment and committing to going carbon neutral by 2035 across its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.
One of the world’s largest and America’s fastest telecommunications company, Verizon announced on Monday that it was strengthening its commitment to sustainability by announcing a commitment to go carbon neutral by 2035 through a range of tools including reducing emissions directly and procuring renewable energy for its operations.
The move follows a 2018 which saw the company flunked for its clean energy and emissions policies by ethical consumerism non-profit Green America. The group’s Wireless Scorecard flunked Verizon across three areas of action — current clean energy sourcing, clean energy commitment, and greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Green America also followed up in the middle of the year by highlighting Verizon’s misleading #humanability ad campaign which suggested Verizon was more involved and invested in clean energy than it actually was.
The mounting pressure appears to have had an impact, as in December Verizon announced a renewable energy target of 50% by 2025. This new target is combined with the company’s existing commitment of reducing its carbon intensity by 50% by 2025 on a 2016 baseline, a goal which the company had already been making significant progress on, having reduced its carbon intensity by 28% as of the end of 2017.
Verizon’s new carbon neutral target therefore builds on a combination of campaigner pressure and the company’s own progress over the past few years.
“Sustainability and social responsibility are part of Verizon’s DNA,” said James Gowen, Chief Sustainability Officer and Vice President of Supply Chain Operations at Verizon. “As an emerging leader in sustainability, Verizon understands its responsibility to continuously evolve and innovate to meet new challenges and expectations.”
“It is good that a major energy user like Verizon is recognizing its responsibility to go carbon neutral,” said Todd Larsen, Executive Co-Director, Green America, when reached for comment. “However, the company is still only committing to 50% clean energy by 2025, and we need to see all telecoms reach 100% clean energy by that date to address the climate crisis.”
The company’s new carbon neutrality policy affects only its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions — where Scope 1 emissions as defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (PDF) as direct emissions from owned or controlled sources, and Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity. A company’s Scope 1 and 2 emissions are generally the primary sources of concern, and many companies thus tend to overlook their Scope 3 emissions when it comes to setting in place company policy. According to Verizon, however, its Scope 3 emissions are “exclusively business travel” and are well below the levels of its Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Specifically, according to Verizon’s own figures, its Scope 3 emissions accounted for only 1.4% of the company’s total emissions in 2017 — and had decreased 24% between 2016 and 2017 as well.