May 10, 2022

InTune: Time for Climate action

Only this week, research from the UK Met Office predicted that the probability of one of the next five years surpassing the 1.5°C global heating limit set by international governments is now 50%, up from 20% in 2020. This highlights why it is more important than ever that businesses double down on the climate ambition pledges that many have made and focus on taking positive action to ensure that, for the good of the planet, the 1.5°C limit is not breached. Neil Gibson, who is leading our 1.5°C Climate Ambition project, looks at how the telecommunications industry in particular can take action now.

Neil Gibson, 1.5°C Climate Ambition Project Manager

Industry wide effort 

In April 2021, the GSMA reported that mobile operators covering 50% of global connections and 65% of industry revenue had committed to science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This highlights that the telecoms industry as a whole is aware of the impact it is having on the planet and that mitigating that impact has to be a priority over the next few years as the world seeks to limit rising temperatures. However, as research indicates that we are edging closer to exceeding the thresholds set out in the Paris agreement, it is clear that commitment now needs to take the form of action, alongside the pledges.

To celebrate Earth Day this year, ABI Research released a paper titled, 30 Action Items for Sustainability: Telco Operators, which lays out an action plan for reaching net-zero carbon emissions with examples and best practices. It highlights some of the efficiency gains that can be made as part of network evolution. One of the notable statistics in the report is that 5G has the potential to be 90% more efficient than 4G, and operators are encouraged to switch to more energy efficient network equipment. It emphasises again that now is the time for swift action to be taken to mitigate the impact of climate change.  

Tackling the problem head on

So, what are we doing here at RFS? We have made climate ambition pledges, but what does action look like on our part? We are keen to lead the way, showing how telecommunication enterprises that have a strong focus on manufacturing can achieve climate ambition goals. It is a particular challenge as manufacturing accounts for about a third (29.7%) of global greenhouse gas emissions but focusing on how to ensure our facilities run in a greener way will ensure a positive impact. RFS is already complying with ISO14001 Environmental Management standards, but we acknowledge that more needs to be done. We have committed over the past few years to monitoring both our manufacturing and other site environments to identify areas for improvement and are now using this data to drive positive change. For example, installing solar panelling on facilities in Australia, changing equipment to minimize wastage and moving to energy efficient alternatives to traditional factory lighting are just some of the examples of the drive to minimize RFS’s environmental impact. 

The big picture 

Although we have identified that working to ensure our facilities are operated in a greener way is a key part of RFS’s commitment to climate ambition targets, it is only one piece of the puzzle. We are working with teams across the globe to encourage positive change for the environment. These may be small changes, using eco-friendly search engines, encouraging hybrid working to minimize carbon-emissions associated with daily commutes and promoting greener best practices. However, the cumulative effect is having a positive and measurable impact in moving towards reaching our climate goals. 


Now more than ever it is vital to translate climate change commitments from documents to actions. The telecoms industry is thriving as a result of the ever-growing demand for data and businesses in the sector have a responsibility to deliver this capacity in the greenest way possible. Research, for example the ABI Report, shows that there are numerous ways we as an industry can minimize our environmental impact, and now is the time to implement those, in order to ensure the benefit has time to make a difference.  

If you’re interested to hear more about what RFS is doing to reduce carbon emissions, get in touch with Neil Gibson, 1.5°C Climate Ambition Project Manager at RFS.