2020 was all set to be the year of climate action, building on great momentum created in 2019 when the climate emergency became widely recognised.
However, with the world having to deal with the imminent and directly discernible danger of COVID-19 since the beginning of 2020, the centrality of the climate agenda suddenly looked less certain.
Yet it is clear that we cannot put the climate agenda on hold.
With scientists warning that we have 10 years left to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, we need to seize the opportunity to address the climate crisis and emerge stronger and more resilient than we were before.
The European Union has put the Green Deal at the heart of its recovery plans, and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has urged governments to allocate economic rescue packages to businesses that cut greenhouse gas emissions and create green jobs.
Consumer sentiment is possibly even more important. A survey by Opinium found that 48 per cent of the UK public agree that the government should respond "with the same urgency to climate change as it has with Covid-19", with just 28 per cent saying it shouldn't. In their purchasing behaviour, consumers will be seeking to turn their concerns into action and will be asking what difference their decisions make.
At Vodafone, we believe the environmental agenda is as crucial as it has ever been. Planet is one of the three pillars that underpins our Purpose of connecting for a better future, along with Digital Society and Inclusion for All. In the past three months, digital society and connectivity have become a lifeline for many citizens and companies, and our 5-point-plan, launched mid-March to help governments address the health crisis, was based on it.
As we enter into a new period of economic uncertainty, our primary focus will be on building a resilient and inclusive digital society where no one is left behind. One where people have access to - and opportunities to benefit from - digital society; while ensuring that connectivity does not come at a cost to the planet.
At Vodafone we are making progress towards our 2025 targets of 100% renewable electricity and halving our greenhouse gas emissions. We are also seeing the impact of our Asset Marketplace, a business-to-business solution within Vodafone that allows us to re-sell and repurpose large decommissioned electrical items like masts and antennas, so that we do not need to purchase new items.
We are also bringing the lens of “resilience” to our planet agenda. For example, we are exploring how supply chain resilience and digital transformation can help us go further in addressing our key environmental topics: from greenhouse gas emissions to e-waste. We are also thinking about how we can help our customers, and our suppliers, to be more resilient in the form of offers and services that help shape a more sustainable future.
An example that brings this to life is how we can work with governments and other companies to create IoT-enabled smart cities that reroute traffic around congestion in real time and intelligently manage energy use and pollution in every town and city. We already help our customers save 3.9 tonnes of CO2 emissions for every tonne of CO2 that we emit from our own operations, and IoT solutions can unlock further socio-economic and planet benefits in sustainable agriculture, smart energy management, urban air quality etc.
More than ever, our planet agenda is anchored within our business and goes hand-in-hand with commercial strategy, both in terms of addressing our own footprint, and helping our customer address theirs – to jointly create a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable future.
To learn more about the steps we as a business are taking to reduce our impact on the planet, please visit https://www.vodafone.com/our-purpose/planet.