Despite being the largest telecom company, Verizon has been a laggard in using clean energy. But it looks like that might be changing.
The entire telecom industry uses vast amounts of energy, with the major four companies collectively using over 30 million megawatt hours (MWH) or electric power every year [This number was originally reported as 3 million, but has been corrected to 30 million MWh]. AT&T and Verizon have a combined electricity usage that could power 2.6 million homes a year.
And out of the major four companies, Verizon has been the last to set any significant renewables target. But a recent, subtle announcement shows that the telecom giant is finally aiming to get in step with its competitors.
At the end of November, Verizon added a new goal to its sustainability page by committing to source 50% of its total electricity usage from clean energy by 2025.
Achieving this goal would equal cutting an estimated 2.8 million tons of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent of taking nearly 600,000 cars off the road each year. This is also the annual equivalent of what 2.9 million acres of forest could sequester.
This comes after T-Mobile's January 2018 commitment to reach 100% clean energy by 2021 (which will reduce emissions by 1.2 tons of CO2 annually). And after AT&T’s subsequent announcement of its plan to purchase 830 MW of wind power (which would take AT&T to 30% clean energy and cut over 2.6 million tons of CO2 emissions).
Verizon has promoted its focus on energy intensity, meaning more of a focus on energy efficiency rather than reducing consumption overall or sourcing cleaner energy (wind or solar). While Verizon has delivered on its goals to use energy more efficiently, its scale has continued to grow while using a paltry 2% of renewable energy.
Throughout the past year, over 33,000 people have sent petitions urging Verizon to begin powering its networks and data centers with renewables through Green America’s Hang Up On Fossil Fuels Campaign. Thousands have contacted telecoms directly through social media and phone calls demanding it to #cleanupwireless. And Verizon’s status as a laggard has been highlighted by competitor T-Mobile and picked up in news media nationwide.
As the latest climate reports have shown, we need aggressive action from all sectors and actors, including large corporations, to curb the fatal and wide-reaching impacts of climate change. We are pleased that Verizon has heard these calls for clean energy and set this goal. But the industry should have its sights set on 100% clean energy by 2025.
It is also essential that Verizon sets a timeline for meeting its goal and maintains transparency on its progress, so that customers can know there is action behind this commitment.
We look forward to the near future when major telecom commitments are met and the networks we rely on are powered with clean energy. And we’ll be tracking every step of the way there.