Telstra dumps carbon credits in favor of decarbonization

After greenwashing criticisms, Australian telco Telstra raises targets and focuses on direct action to cut emissions.

Robert Clark, Contributing Editor, Special to Light Reading

June 14, 2024

2 Min Read
Telstra shop on a street corner.
(SOURCE: SAMMY/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO)

Telstra has discarded carbon credits in favor of direct investment in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Chief Sustainability Officer Justine Rowe said Friday the company is re-prioritizing climate change investments toward "decarbonization projects that will reduce our footprint overall."

"The biggest impact we can have on climate change – especially in the short- to medium-term – is to emit less carbon," she said.

The company has hiked its target for absolute scope 1 and scope 2 emissions from 50% to 70% by 2030 against its 2019 baseline. Previously it had set a net reduction target, aided by offsets. Rowe said the company would maintain its target of cutting absolute scope 3 emissions by 50% by 2030.

Scope 1 emissions are greenhouse gases (GHG) generated by things or processes a company controls, and scope 2 are those arising from electricity, heating or cooling, while scope 3 are indirect emissions generated by others in a company's supply chain.

Earlier this year, Telstra was one of a group of big Australian firms called out for lacking a "comprehensive, independently verified and fully costed plan for reducing their emissions" that would feasibly limit global warming to 1.5C or below.

Direct and transparent

Carbon credits, which were introduced under the Kyoto Protocol nearly three decades ago, are increasingly controversial, with critics claiming they lack transparency and allow companies to evade emissions reduction.

Rowe said the company was "aware of the increased public and industry interest in how corporates are using carbon credits," and that consumers were "increasingly expecting companies to take more direct and transparent climate action."

Telstra aimed to boost investment in reducing emissions from operations rather than offsetting what remains, she said.

"This includes achieving further energy efficiency from our operations, decommissioning technology that isn’t as energy-efficient in favor of new equipment that is, and even sourcing electric vehicles for our field teams," Rowe stated.

She said Telstra would also explore new technologies, including pilots of green hydrogen cells, more solar and battery solutions, and greater use of analytics and AI to improve efficiencies.

Among other regional telcos, Singtel is aiming to reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions from a 2015 baseline by 25% in 2025 and by 42% by 2030. Scope 3 emissions are slated to decline 30% by 2030.

NTT Group says it is aiming for 80% reduction in scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030, against a 2013 baseline, and net zero by 2040. By March 2023 it had reduced emissions by 45%.

About the Author(s)

Robert Clark

Contributing Editor, Special to Light Reading

Robert Clark is an independent technology editor and researcher based in Hong Kong. In addition to contributing to Light Reading, he also has his own blog,  Electric Speech (http://www.electricspeech.com). 

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