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BT, Elisa, Telefónica and Verizon alone in backing Amazon climate pledge

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Only four telcos from around the world have signed Amazon’s Climate Pledge, which the data centre, streaming and delivery company started in 2019.

As the COP26 conference gets under way in Glasgow today, the four operators appear in a list of 210 companies that have signed up to the Climate Pledge, which calls on organisations to commit to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2040 – 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement.

The telcos are the UK’s BT, Elisa of Finland, Spain’s Telefónica and Verizon of the US.

A number of data centre operators and technology companies are also in the list – including at least one of Amazon’s rivals, Microsoft.

At Telefónica, Maya Ormazabal, the group’s director of environment and human rights, said “We’ve had energy efficiency initiatives in place for 16 years and early on we created our Climate Change Office to introduce the efforts of multiple areas into the company’s strategy.”

Telefónica, also a founding member of the European Green Digital Coalition, said it has three steps towards net-zero emissions: reduce its emissions; reduce emissions in the value chain; and neutralise the remaining emissions.

Last year its executive committee approved the group’s goal of registering net-zero emissions in its main operations by 2025 – and by 2040 at the. “These are commitments that are aligned with the 1.5ºC scenario,” said Ormazabal.

BT is the latest of the four to sign the Climate Pledge, saying in September 2021 it will “cut the emissions intensity of its operations by 87% by the end of March 2031 against a 2016/17 baseline and be net-zero for its operations by 2030 and for its supply chain and customer emissions by 2040”.

In 2019 Verizon became the first US telecom company to issue a green bond, raising almost US$1 billion in net proceeds for renewable energy, energy efficiency, green buildings and biodiversity and conservation. Last year it issued its second green bond for renewable energy investments.

Elisa said it is committed to the principles of the UN Global Compact “in order to take responsibility for the sustainable development and good future of the planet”. It said that climate change mitigation and reducing carbon emissions have been a part of its strategy since 2009, “and the company has set climate targets in accordance with the Paris Agreement as part of the international Science Based Targets initiative”.

Another signatory from the industry is US-based subsea cable consultancy WFN Strategies. It said: “WFN Strategies believes that climate change demands urgent and universal action.” In addition, WFN committed to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions annually, implement decarbonisation strategies through real business change and innovations, and take actions to neutralise any remaining emissions.

Other data centre, software and high-tech companies in the Climate Pledge list of 210 organisations are HP, IBM, Iron Mountain, Sabey, Salesforce, Schneider Electric, Snap and VMware.