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Jul 18 2016

In pursuit of carbon-free network operations

This blog is by Rajeev SuriTwitter: @nokia

I have no doubt that technology can make our planet more sustainable by improving the efficiency of almost everything we have and everything we do.  But, there are also legitimate questions about the environmental impact of information and communication technology (ICT).  Networks, data centres, personal devices and more all consume energy.  In fact while the ICT industry is responsible for just 2% of global CO2 emissions, with telecoms representing only a quarter of that, there is evidence that many of our telco operators are now spending more on electricity to power their networks than they invest in expanding and upgrading those networks to meet the ever-increasing demand for mobile data.

There has to be a better way.  At Nokia, we believe that by focusing on sustainability we can do good things for our business, for our customers and for our planet.  While there is a lot of work still ahead of us, we are working hard to be part of the solution and to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  I am quite pleased that we have been acknowledged recently as being world-class by internationally recognized sustainability organizations assessing our environmental performance. Specifically, we just have been reconfirmed as a constituent of FTSE4GOOD index with a top score in environment. Earlier this year we got a perfect score in the Carbon Disclosure Project and were back in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices. In 2015, we reduced emissions from all our facilities by around 12% from the previous year and with our current trajectory, we have a real chance to make our own operations carbon free by 2030.  We are driving meaningful, consistent improvements in our environmental impact with clear targets announced publicly. We are also investigating a scientific long term target-setting methodology for greenhouse gas reduction from our operations to do our share in keeping global warming below 2°C.

But, we also recognize that our opportunity to make the biggest difference is not in our own operations, but in the networks we provide to customers.  Given this, we launched our Zero Emission offering in 2015; a group of products and services that can reduce an operator’s CO2 emissions by up to 60%. Even better, by using renewable energy sources for base stations, the gap to zero net emissions can be closed. Last year, elements from the Zero Emission group were used in 54 network modernizations, cutting emissions by an average of 45% per project.

Today, 120 customers use at least one Zero Emission product or service, and 104 use renewable energy sources provided by Nokia.  These results are impressive, but if our customers are to achieve carbon-free network operations we need to do much more.  For this reason, we are working on innovative base station designs which can be powered by their own renewable sources, such as solar cells or wind turbines, with any remaining gap bridged using carbon-neutral renewable sources, which we also provide.

I mentioned earlier that the ICT industry contributes just 2% of global CO2 emissions.  The same report that gives this number also makes another, extremely interesting claim: that the CO2 emissions avoided by using ICT (teleconferencing, instead of flying, to take one obvious example) are nearly ten times higher than the emissions generated by ICT deployment.  Let’s make it a matter of urgency to improve our customers’ total cost of ownership through lower network CO2 emissions. In doing so, we will be uniting both kinds of sustainability – and everyone will benefit.

Rajeev

Please share your ideas and feedback by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks and @nokia with #sustainability #CSR #GlobalGoals

Further reading:Nokia’s People and Planet ReportNokia’s green targetsOur environmental momentum

About Rajeev Suri

As Nokia CEO, Rajeev has been the driving force behind Nokia’s recent transformation, including its acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent; successful expansion into digital health and enterprise vertical markets; building a standalone software business; and the return of the Nokia brand to mobile phones. He is also a United Nations Broadband Commissioner; Vice Chair of the B20 Digitalization Taskforce; and a member of the World Economic Forum’s stewardship board for better health care. Rajeev is an avid fitness enthusiast and music lover and has probably experienced most of the world’s operator networks first hand during his travels.

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