Highlights of GSMA study: Mobile Net Zero 2024, State of the Industry on Climate Action

Reducing carbon emissions has been a top priority for global network operators and equipment vendors for the past few years.  Many have published net zero targets and use every opportunity to include their sustainability agenda into their public announcements.  In 2019, the mobile industry set a goal to reach net zero by 2050, becoming one of the first sectors in the world to set such an ambitious target.

A new GSMA study titled Mobile Net Zero 2024, State of the Industry on Climate Action, the fourth of its kind, provides a glimpse of how they are progressing.

Over the past year, eight network operators submitted new near-term targets to the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), bringing the total to 70 operators and
representing nearly half of global mobile connections. Fifty-three operators have also
committed to net zero targets.

GSMA found that European telcos are leading the way forward. Operational emissions in Europe fell by half in the 2019-2022 period, with some telcos getting a special mention for exceeding that 50% level; Tele2, Telefónica, Telenor, Telia and Vodafone all achieved deeper reductions.

North America also performed well, with operational emissions falling by around 30% over the period, as did Latin America, where TIM Brasil and Telefonica got a shout-out for driving a 22% reduction. And Turkcell was credited as the main orchestrator of a decline of around a fifth in emissions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

However, emissions from operators in Greater China rose by 3% and those from the Asia-Pacific by 10%. While those numbers are not huge, the relative sizes of those markets mean there is a significant impact on the overall figures.

“While this appears challenging, recent progress shows this is within reach,” the report reads. Yet the target reduction rate for operational emissions was exceeded for the past three years in Europe (21% per year), North America (11%), Latin America (8%) and MENA (8%).

Three-quarters of the mobile industry’s carbon emission come from its value chain (Scope 3), highlighting the importance of engaging supply chains and customers. More than 90% of Scope 3 emissions came from just five Scope 3 categories: 1) Purchased goods and services; 2) Capital goods; 3) Fuel- and energy-related activities; 11) Use of sold products; and 15) Investments.

GSA says there is an urgent need for improved data and further analysis to better understand Scope 3 trends.

“The evidence shows that the mobile industry’s commitment to net zero by 2050 is paying off. Despite surging demand for connectivity and data, the global carbon emissions of operators continued to fall,” said John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer at the GSMA.

The number of mobile connections globally rose by 7% between 2019 and 2022, and Internet traffic more than doubled, the GSMA said. As such, the industry’s carbon reductions were mainly driven by energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy.

“Although we see the strongest early lead from Europe in the race to net zero, and encouraging progress in the Americas and MENA, this is a race that everybody needs to win – or else we all lose,” Giusti said, assiduously avoiding naming those trailing markets.


Mobile Net Zero 2024: State of the Industry on Climate Action

Mobile Net Zero 2024



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2 thoughts on “Highlights of GSMA study: Mobile Net Zero 2024, State of the Industry on Climate Action

  1. Orange Business and Cisco solutions have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on a joint action plan to share detailed information on their respective greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) to better inform customers, and as extra motivation for reducing them.

    Orange Business solutions that integrate Cisco products will come with a baseline figure for GHG emissions, allowing both companies to keep track of them across their shared portfolio.

    In addition to emissions, Cisco will provide Orange with the estimated carbon footprint of the Cisco products that Orange sells. This should help the telco get to grips with tracking its indirect – or scope 3 – emissions.

  2. ZTE has achieved a significant milestone by successfully implementing a zero-carbon energy solution that supplies a telecom site of Telefónica Germany. This groundbreaking project utilizes ZTE’s innovative green power solution that combines solar energy, methanol-powered hydrogen fuel cells, and intelligent energy storage.

    The collaboration between ZTE and Telefónica Germany marks the first commercial deployment of such a green solution in Germany. For network operation, Telefónica Germany uses technology from one of its national network suppliers. Challenges arise when it comes to accessing grid power in remote locations, as it often involves lengthy construction periods and high costs. To overcome these obstacles, ZTE explored a new green and efficient solution for Telefónica Germany that meet the demands of a rapidly changing world. The final implementation took into account environmental friendliness, sustainability, and affordability, demonstrating superior performance in multiple areas.

    The proposed solution from ZTE solves multiple challenges by combining solar power with methanol-powered hydrogen fuel cells. By relying primarily on solar energy and supplementing with hydrogen fuel cells during winter, the solution achieves 100% power availability, ensuring uninterrupted energy supply for the telecom site – and therefore smooth communication services for the residents in the remote area as well as eliminating worries about disruptions with their connectivity to the global network.

    The green solution stands out for its minimal carbon footprint. The combination of solar energy and methanol-powered hydrogen fuel cells results in only water and a minimal amount of carbon dioxide as byproducts. This not only reduces carbon emissions but also aligns with the high standards for sustainable development set by the German government and enterprises. By adopting this ultimate green energy solution, Telefónica Germany demonstrates its commitment to environmental responsibility and sets an example for other companies in the telecommunications industry.

    Furthermore, the solution, leverages methanol hydrogen production within the module, and thereby eliminates the risks associated with hydrogen storage and transportation, making it safer and more environment-friendly compared to traditional hydrogen fuel cells. Backed up with this reliable and secure energy supply, Telefónica Germany delivers excellent communication services without compromising safety or sustainability at the pilot site.

    ZTE’s green solution can be extended to other European operators, contributing to the industry-wide goal of carbon neutrality. By sharing its expertise, ZTE is dedicated to driving the telecommunications industry towards a greener and more sustainable future.

    ZTE has been committed to continuous innovations for carbon neutrality. The company will actively explore new and diverse application scenarios in collaboration with its partners, making substantial contributions to both society and the environment.

    About Telefónica Germany:
    O2 Telefónica is a leading full-service provider of telecommunications services for consumers and business customers. The portfolio of the core brand O2 and various secondary and partner brands includes not only traditional telephony and Internet connections but also innovative digital services in the area of the Internet of Things and data analysis. In mobile communications, O2 Telefónica serves more than 45 million mobile lines (incl. M2M – as of December 31, 2023). No other network operator connects more people in this country. The company’s high-performance, award-winning mobile network reaches over 99% of the population. In the fixed network, O2 Telefónica offers its customers the greatest technological diversity and geographical availability of any provider in Germany. Telefónica Deutschland Holding AG has been listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange since 2012. In fiscal year 2023, the company generated revenues of EUR 8.6 billion with around 7,500 employees. The company is majority-owned by the Madrid-based Spanish telecommunications group Telefónica S.A., one of the largest telecommunications groups in the world.

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