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Revealed: BT’s “green” recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic

The UK’s leading broadband giant, BT Group, has unveiled two new UK initiatives. We explore these in more detail

DAN WEATHERLEY
|Jun 5|magazine8 min read

Two initiatives, which BT has said will help form the foundation of an eco-friendly recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, have been introduced including the ‘Green Tech Innovation Platform’ and the ‘UK Electric Fleets Alliance’. 

The company aims to help drive the UK’s net-zero carbon emissions strategy, in addition to meeting its own goals of becoming carbon neutral by 2045.

Each year BT is reducing the amount of CO2 it produces. Last year, it emitted 243 Ktonnes of CO2e, a reduction of almost a fifth compared to the previous year. In addition to this, BT aims to buy 100% of its electricity across the globe solely from renewable sources by the end of this year. The figure currently stands at 92%.

Most of BT’s vehicle fleet is still primarily Petrol and Diesel vehicles, however, 23 vans are electric and another 46 green vehicles are on order, but this is minuscule compared to its total fleet of 34,000 vehicles, with around 28,000 used by Openreach engineers. The company has stated that the country’s lack of nationwide infrastructure for charging vehicles has hindered its plans to get more electric vans, in addition to the lacklustre range of most offerings.

BT has entered a partnership with The Climate Group in launching the UK Electric Fleets Alliance which aims to assist a wider adoption of clean, electric vehicles along with a generalised fleet de-carbonisation strategy by introducing supportive policy measures. These include stimulating the supply of EV’s whilst investing in cutting-edge charging infrastructure to enhance the practicality and usability of electric vehicle solutions. Although no specific targets have been set for the adoption of electric vehicles, the operator aims to increase its use of electric vehicles considerably from now into the future.

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In addition to this, the company has introduced the Green Tech Innovation Platform which will enable BT to work with innovative green start-ups through the Plug and Play platform to implement and scale-up new technologies which can help enable the operator to achieve its net-zero sustainability goals.

Some of the Green Tech Innovation Platform examples include the implementation of smart streets that can provide insights from environmental monitoring and could implement technology such as optimisation sensors. Smart buildings are also on the radar as cutting edge IoT-enabled solutions which can help in various areas including social housing, energy and water management, and a number of public sector buildings.

5G will also be explored and experimented with as it can enable workers to work remotely thus reducing the impact on the environment as a result of commuting in private cars. Furthermore, video and augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR, respectively), could be harnessed to enable remote repairs and diagnostics to be carried out by health and other public sector workers.

BT Group’s CEO, Philip Jansen said: “The economic set back and immense hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic are severe and could be long lasting. However, despite the temporary reprieve on carbon emissions and air quality in towns and cities during the lockdown, the global climate emergency hasn’t gone away.

As we emerge from the crisis, the recovery presents a huge opportunity for Governments, businesses and individuals to put action on climate at the heart of their efforts. We will be playing our part with a once-in-a-generation investment in the UK’s digital infrastructure: full fibre broadband to 20 million premises, as well as our continued investment in 5G mobile.

We will also be backing new green technologies through our Green Tech Innovation Platform. BT is stepping up on climate action and we want to encourage and help others to do the same.”
 

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