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Renewable Energy is Increasingly Powering the Mobile Industry

Every industry has a duty to lessen its emissions in order to have a smaller impact on the environment. The mobile sector is similar.

How is your mobile provider addressing the climate crisis? You may not have given it much attention, but as more networks throughout the world align themselves with science-based targets, it is now simpler than ever to determine whether the service you are paying for is actually making an effort to lessen its environmental impact.

About a quarter (24%) of the energy consumed by the mobile industry comes from renewable sources, up from 14% in 2020, according to a report presented at Mobile World Congress on Tuesday in Barcelona. Also, 62 carriers, or 61% of the industry's revenue, have already made a commitment to drastically reduce their direct and indirect emissions by 2030. There are now 24 networks, up from the prior report's 24 networks in April of last year.

To ensure that carriers achieve net zero emissions by 2050, the GSMA is driving an industry-wide initiative. Its members' dedication to keeping global warming below the Paris Agreement's science-based limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius is a crucial indicator of how ambitious they are.

As the effects of the climate crisis, such as floods, wildfires, and deadly heatwaves, are becoming more and more felt in different parts of the world, pressure is mounting on all industries to prioritize the switch to clean energy and make sure they're actively working to protect rather than destroy our ecosystems. The mobile sector is no exception, and different networks are taking different steps to reduce their environmental impact, which may affect where you decide to spend your money.

On the hardware side, phone manufacturers are making significant investments to extend the lifespan of phones and use more recycled components in their devices. On the network side, however, businesses are increasingly putting money into researching ways to construct and run infrastructure using highly effective, less energy-intensive technologies than those previously employed.

According to John Giusti, head of regulatory affairs for the GSMA, access to renewable energy presents the biggest problem for carriers. He wrote in the paper, "The good news is that the industry is progressing, with operators already directly purchasing 24% of their electricity from renewable sources, up from 18% in 2021 and 14% in 2020. Yet, he stressed, governments must assist in boosting access to renewable energy because carrier demand exceeds supply.

When it comes to bold sustainability commitments and initiatives, Europe and North America, two of the regions with the largest historical emissions, are setting the pace. According to Steven Moore, head of climate action for the GSMA, "it's arguably only fair since it's regions of the world where they're most advanced climate-wise, and therefore they have the most capability to actually reduce their emissions."

The GSMA's research examined the efforts taken by mobile carriers around the world, but singled out T-Mobile as an organization that is doing a lot to lessen its carbon footprint in the US. It is the first US cellular firm to set a net zero objective that has been verified by the Science Based Target Initiative. This goal includes all of the company's emissions, including those from the whole supply chain and indirect emissions from electricity consumed. It is also one of a very tiny number of networks that have chosen to establish a net zero by 2040 aim rather than a 2050 one.

Meanwhile, Verizon and AT&T, its two biggest rivals, have endorsed the 1.5 degree plan, and Verizon has pledged to achieve net zero emissions across the board by 2050. Moore stated that he wouldn't be shocked if many networks eventually achieve net zero far sooner than 2050. It's amazing how rapidly things can change once we start investing, he remarked.

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