American telecommunications giant Verizon has finally bowed to consumer and campaigner pressure and set itself a real renewable energy target of 50% by 2025, a dramatic increase on its current level of 2% and its previously-indicated 4% target.
Verizon has been under mounting pressure for its lack of action on clean energy — especially when compared to major rivals T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T. Social and environmental NGO Green America has been the self-proclaimed telecommunications watchdog for green energy usage and earlier this year the organization published its Wireless Scorecard, rating the four major American telecommunications companies on their commitment to green policies. T-Mobile has consistently been held up as a shining light in the industry, while Sprint and AT&T continue to flounder around the middle.
However, Verizon has almost intentionally made it clear that it has had no interest in scaling up its clean energy use. In Green America’s Wireless Scorecard earlier this year, the company was flunked across all categories.
Green America also highlighted what it described as a “misleading” Verizon ad campaign in the middle of the year, claiming that the company’s ‘#humanability’ advertising campaign which highlighted the role it was playing in helping the Hawaiian Electric Company achieve 100% renewable power across the Hawaiian islands — help provided in the form of sensors that provide the electricity supplier with near real-time information on electricity generation.
Which was a good start, but meant almost nothing when you consider the company was content to keep its clean energy sourcing to around the 2-4% mark.
Alongside all this, Green America has been mobilizing American consumers to send petitions to Verizon to begin powering its networks and data centers with renewable energy sources — an effort which resulted in approximately 33,000 people petitioning the company.
Whether or not the increasing pressure is directly responsible or not, Verizon quietly revealed a new sustainability policy and target which will see the company source 50% of its total electricity usage from renewable energy sources by 2025. In addition, Verizon will add 24 megawatts (MW) of green energy into its operations by the same date.
The company is also committed to reducing its carbon intensity by 50% by 2025 from a 2016 baseline. The company says it exceeded its goal set in 2009 to reduce carbon intensity by 50% by 2020 and has now set a new goal to reduce it again based on the new 2016 baseline. Further, Verizon says it has already reduced its carbon intensity by 28% as of the end of 2017.
As for the company’s new renewable energy target, Green America believes that will result in the reduction of approximately 2.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
“Verizon management, shareholders and customers deserve credit for moving in the right direction on renewable energy,” said Todd Larsen, Green America Executive Co-Director for Consumer and Corporate Engagement. “The company has gone from a meager commitment of 24 MW of new clean energy for its facilities to a commitment of hundreds of MW meeting 50% of its total energy usage. Consumers are still calling on Verizon to match T-Mobile and commit to 100% renewable energy in the near term and put purchasing agreements for wind and solar into place soon. Not only is this achievable, but it is essential for every corporation to take action to address climate change quickly to protect the planet.”