Climate change is one of the most pressing global challenges. The world urgently needs to phase out greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to avoid accelerating the crisis. Companies must also assess their own impact on the climate and how climate change may pose risks to their business, and they must take steps to mitigate its effect.
AT&T is a leader in the global transition to net zero emissions. We are scaling our efforts through emissions-reducing solutions for our operations, customers and communities. Our technology can play a critical role in transitioning to a more resource-efficient world by providing insights and solutions that can help customers reduce GHG emissions through more efficient electricity, fuel and water use while helping improve the resilience of our communities.
Reduce our absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions1 63% (2015 base year) – aligning with a 1.5°C pathway.(Approved by the Science Based Targets initiative in 2021.)
Progress2: Reduction of 37.2%1
2021 Scope 1 and 2 emissions were 5,547,709 metric tons of CO2e. This represents a 37.17% reduction from our 2015 base year (8,829,258 metric tons of CO2e) – 59.0% attainment toward our Scope 1 and 2 science-based target.1
Achieve carbon neutrality (net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions1)
Progress: Reduction of 3,281,549 metric tons of CO2e1
2021 Scope 1 and 2 emissions were 5,547,709 metric tons of CO2e. This represents a reduction of 3,281,549 metric tons from our 2015 base year (8,829,258 metric tons of CO2e) – 37.2% attainment toward our net zero target.1
Customer Emissions Reduction Enablement
Deliver connectivity solutions that enable business customers to reduce a gigaton (1 billion metric tons) of GHG emissions between 2018 and 2035.
Progress: Enabled 110.3 million metric tons of customer emissions savings
AT&T-enabled customer GHG emissions reductions measured between 2018 and 2021 totaled 110.3 million metric tons of CO2e – approximately 11% attainment toward our Gigaton Goal.3
Our Climate Change Policy explains how we measure and manage the impacts of climate change on our business. We continually strive to reduce our energy intensity and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase resilience throughout our operations. Our Climate Strategy & Transition Plan provides information about AT&T’s approach to supporting the transition to a net zero economy.
Climate Change Governance
Board of Directors Oversight
The Governance and Policy Committee (GPC) of the AT&T Board of Directors (Board) meets 3–4 times per year to assist the Board in oversight of AT&T’s ESG strategy, including related policies, programs and ESG reporting. In addition to discussions with individual GPC members throughout the year, our Senior Vice President (SVP) – Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and ESG, who also is our Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), presents on relevant topics and is present at all GPC meetings for ESG dialogue. In 2021, the predecessor to the GPC (the Public Policy and Corporate Reputation Committee) held 3 regularly scheduled meetings discussing topics including climate transition and ESG reporting.
The Audit Committee of the Board oversees our internal audit of ESG reporting and our integration of ESG issues into corporate enterprise risk management analysis.
Our CSO oversees AT&T’s climate-related risks, opportunities and strategy-setting process, and receives weekly updates on climate-related activities and developments throughout the business.
Our SVP – Network Engineering and Operations has responsibility for the resilience of our network and real estate assets, including energy and water use, and oversees the management of climate-related impacts to our operations. This includes our commitments to renewable energy, network disaster response and business continuity planning, as well as implementation and adoption of tools such as AT&T’s Climate Change Analysis Tool, which helps us identify climate-related risks to our infrastructure and operations up to 30 years in the future.
Our CSR Governance Council is led by our CSO and is composed of more than a dozen officers representing business operations aligned to our most important ESG focus areas, such as climate change, emissions and use of energy and water resources. It meets 3–4 times per year and collaborates across a broad range of initiatives, competencies and perspectives.
As a direct report to the CSO, the Assistant Vice President (AVP) – Global Environmental Sustainability oversees AT&T’s climate-related strategy and leads our Environmental Leadership Committee, which comprises senior business leaders from across the company. In addition, AT&T’s Global Environmental Sustainability team tracks climate-related developments within and outside AT&T and communicates the most relevant issues to the CSO.
Members of our global environmental sustainability team, also led by our AVP – Global Environmental Sustainability, monitor internal and external climate-related developments. Together, they work closely with business unit experts throughout our operating companies to implement and enhance programs and policies addressing climate-related risks and opportunities for AT&T.
AT&T’s Climate Change Policy explains how we measure and manage our approach to the impacts of climate change. We continually strive to help our customers be more sustainable, reduce our own GHG emissions and increase resilience throughout our operations. Our Energy Policy outlines AT&T’s commitment to the efficient, cost-effective and environmentally responsible use of energy while maintaining or improving quality, reliability, productivity and safety.
Our ESG reporting is internally validated by our finance and audit teams. We integrate ESG topics identified through our regularly occurring stakeholder assessment into our corporate enterprise risk management analysis.
Climate-Related Ties to Leadership Compensation
Demonstrated progress toward and achievement of goals related to climate-related issues (such as our programs for adoption of renewable energy, our approved science-based carbon reduction targets and our 2035 carbon-neutral goal) are part of the annual performance objectives for our CSO, AVP – Global Environmental Sustainability and other senior leaders across our business. Performance toward such goals is taken into account when these individuals’ supervisors determine annual merit salary increases and bonus awards.
For more information about how remuneration is tied to the management of climate-related issues, among other topics, please see our Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) report and CDP response.
Climate Change Strategy
To help us better understand how AT&T is positioned to respond to climate change, we assess the potential impacts and the magnitude of climate-related risks on our operations, including network infrastructure; our products; and our brand. AT&T also assesses how regulations, developments in technology, and market or reputational factors could affect our company. As climate-related risks are identified or considered, they are analyzed through our companywide internal risk management processes.
AT&T’s resulting climate strategy focuses on 3 areas: mitigating the impacts of climate change, seizing opportunities to be part of the solution, and managing and adapting to climate-related risks. For additional information, please see our TCFD report.
As part of our effort to reduce our environmental impact, AT&T has committed to be carbon neutral across our global operations by 2035. We will achieve this by reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions through the following initiatives:
Accelerating energy optimization and supporting the renewable energy marketplace: Purchased electricity and steam are a predominant source of emissions for AT&T, with market-based Scope 2 emissions accounting for more than 82% of our total operational emissions (Scope 1 and 2). AT&T is actively addressing these emissions through renewable energy procurement and the implementation of more energy efficiency projects and network optimization efforts.
- Renewable energy: Over the past few years, AT&T has transitioned from a few megawatts of renewable energy to making purchases totaling more than 1.7 gigawatts. In 2022, we announced 2 new solar energy deals representing 155 megawatts of solar energy. We are the 8th largest U.S. corporate renewable energy user and are actively pursuing additional deals.4 In Mexico, we’re implementing a 40 gigawatt-hours/year agreement to supply renewable energy to approximately 1,200 network sites.
- Optimizing energy use in our buildings: AT&T uses Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to drive efficiency in our internal operations. To optimize energy use in our buildings, we implemented a solution that uses AT&T connectivity to acquire performance data from facility equipment across the U.S. We analyze the data centrally to create performance baselines, monitor equipment status and identify required maintenance in real time. This contributes to significant savings on maintenance costs, as well as reductions in unnecessary energy use. Learn more about how we use IoT to manage our AT&T facilities in our case study.
- Transitioning to a low-emissions fleet: Approximately 52% of AT&T’s Scope 1 emissions come from our ground fleet. AT&T is currently in the process of developing a Fleet Emissions Roadmap. This plan will lay out AT&T’s transition to EVs over the next 10 years and lay the groundwork to work on utility upgrades and site make-ready efforts, as well as increase the procurement of electric vehicle supply equipment and EVs.
- Investing in carbon offsets: Though AT&T aims to reduce our footprint to as close to zero emissions as possible, there may be some sources of emissions that cannot be eliminated. In these cases, we may invest in carbon offsets in the future. We are committed to pursuing only the most credible offsets and will be transparent in our approach.
For more information, please see our Climate Strategy & Transition Plan, as well as our Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Energy Management issue briefs.
To guide our progress toward our net zero emissions goal, AT&T set science-based targets that align with international consensus on limiting global temperature increases to no more than 1.5°C. Approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) – a joint effort of CDP, the World Wide Fund for Nature, the U.N. Global Compact and the World Resources Institute – our targets are to:
- Reduce our absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions1 63% by 2030 (2015 base year) – aligning with a 1.5°C pathway. Between 2015 and 2021, we have reduced Scope 1 and 2 emissions 37.2% and are currently ahead of our timeline to achieve our target by 2030.
- Work to ensure 50% of our suppliers (covering purchased goods and services, capital goods and downstream leased assets as a portion of spend) set their own science-based Scope 1 and 2 targets by 2024. Through the end of 2021, 47% of our suppliers by spend had set such targets.
AT&T is well positioned to benefit from the transition to a net zero economy because a key part of our business is providing the technology and connectivity needed to scale climate solutions. Our connectivity solutions can drive emissions reductions in industries that currently have large environmental footprints, such as transportation, energy, manufacturing and agriculture.
The Global enabling Sustainability Initiative's (GeSI) SMARTer2030 report found that the increased use of information and communications technology (ICT) solutions can enable a 20% reduction of global CO2 emissions by 2030, holding emissions at 2015 levels – an avoidance of 12.08 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) of GHG emissions. This translates into a benefit 9.7 times higher than ICT’s own footprint in the same period. The report also found that ICT solutions have the potential to generate more than $11 trillion in economic benefits by 2030.5
Following AT&T’s commitment to achieve net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2035, we sought a more ambitious goal for enabling customer GHG emissions reductions. In 2021, we announced the AT&T Gigaton Goal to deliver connectivity solutions that enable business customers to cumulatively save a gigaton (1 billion metric tons) of GHG emissions by 2035. A gigaton is equal to approximately 19% of U.S. GHG emissions in 2020.6 This goal will calculate the cumulative impact of emissions savings from 2018, when we first calculated AT&T customer emissions reduction enablement, until 2035.
Progress against our Gigaton Goal is reported annually. AT&T-enabled customer GHG emissions reductions measured between 2018 and 2021 total 110.3 million metric tons of CO2e – approximately 11% toward our goal.3
Connected Climate Initiative
AT&T formed the Connected Climate Initiative as part of our efforts to achieve our Gigaton Goal. Through the Initiative, we convene the brightest minds from leading technology companies, AT&T Business customers, universities and nonprofits to identify best practices, develop innovative new products and use cases, and scale the innovations of startup partners building 5G- and other broadband-enabled climate solutions.
Already, we are working with businesses including Microsoft, Equinix and Duke Energy; research universities such as Texas A&M University and the University of Missouri; and a range of other organizations to make an impact at a global scale. This collaborative builds on AT&T’s standing commitment to aggressively reduce our own emissions while enabling the transition to a net zero economy.
Smart Climate Solutions
Current and emerging broadband-enabled solutions such as IoT and 5G/edge computing solutions can help businesses make better decisions, improve efficiencies, save money, reduce GHG emissions and even drive new revenue – all while solving tough operational problems.
IoT delivers near-real-time insights and analytics to many aspects of business, so companies can make data-driven decisions that streamline processes, lower operating costs and drive value. In addition, 5G, artificial intelligence, video analytics and augmented reality open the door to even greater efficiency.
For example, OmniMetrix uses AT&T IoT solutions to help customers reduce the time, fuel, cost and GHG emissions associated with traveling to inspect steel oil and gas pipelines. In addition, this remote monitoring system enables more detailed and timely information about the condition of pipelines, creating the potential for reduced leakage.
New Product Development
Many of our customers are working to develop new products, solutions and business models that can speed emissions reduction, some of which can be enhanced by integrating IoT connectivity. AT&T is committed to helping those customers achieve emissions reduction at scale.
For instance, Emerson’s Grind2Energy™ industrial food waste recycling system helps address the cost and environmental impact of food waste disposal from grocery stores, restaurants and stadiums. This equipment turns food waste from commercial kitchens into a nutrient-rich slurry that anaerobic digesters can turn into biogas – methane obtained from biological resources that can be turned into electricity or heat. AT&T IoT connectivity provides continuous data to optimize Grind2Energy operations, helping increase scalability and improve the market competitiveness of the system.Learn more on our Smart Climate Solutions website.
Employee Engagement on Climate Change
We encourage AT&T employees to take action in their own lives to reduce their climate footprint. Our Environmental Champions Program is an employee-led community that is passionate about protecting the environment. The program engages employees on environmental topics to help raise overall awareness. Its goals are to drive employees to take action both at work and at home. Elements of the program include:
- An online engagement platform that inspires employees to connect, learn, share and act
- Monthly webinars and quarterly newsletters that raise environmental awareness for employees
- A platform for purchasing discounted environmentally friendly and sustainable products
- A robust challenge and awards system that encourages employees to complete activities and missions that are beneficial to the environment and help develop habits that further environmental sustainability
Managing Climate-Related Risks
Climate change can pose a variety of risks to companies. AT&T seeks to better understand and address these risks. We are engaged with internal and external experts to understand how we can best prepare for the risks posed by climate change and make more informed business decisions. We also work with other companies, governments, non-profits and academia to promote technology that tackles climate change and resource challenges.
AT&T is adapting our business practices to minimize the impact of the effects of climate change, including changes in weather and natural disaster patterns. We conduct regular analysis to help ensure our network infrastructure, such as cell sites, can withstand natural disasters and other environmental factors. For example, we deploy high-capacity battery backup to our cell sites, which allows them to remain in service in the event of a power loss. To prepare our network for natural disasters, we regularly test the batteries located at every site and take steps to ensure any fixed generators are fueled on a regular basis.
Our Climate Change Analysis Tool (CCAT), developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, helps visualize climate impacts such as wind, drought, wildfire and flooding at the neighborhood level – up to 30 years in the future. With the tool, AT&T can take climate change into account as we plan for network buildouts, maintenance and disaster preparedness. In 2021, we began combining different risk categories, such as wind and flooding, to generate a holistic climate change risk score for various parts of the business. This will enhance our analysis and help us prioritize action.
We also proactively monitor potential nature-related threats to our network, employees and communities through our Weather Operations Center. Through smart construction, planning and continued monitoring, AT&T is reducing the impact of the unpredictable on our operations.
In addition to our internal work, we are working with external organizations to increase climate resilience and awareness of the climate data. We have already collaborated with organizations such as the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, EcoRise, and the New York Power Authority to promote or use CCAT data. We will continue to look for opportunities to build on these efforts with additional organizations, particularly nongovernmental organizations.
AT&T assesses how climate-related regulations, developments in technology, and market or reputational factors could affect our company. For example, a cost applied to GHG emissions, such as an imposed fuel or carbon tax or another pricing mechanism, may drive up the cost of fossil-fuel-based energy used to power our network, operations and fleet. We also purchase a significant amount of electricity to power our operations.
While we are working to increase the amount of renewable electricity in our portfolio, we still rely on the grid and non-renewable sources to ensure our energy supply. Any policy that increases the cost of GHG emissions and/or a policy that may drive up the cost of fossil fuel-based energy or power has the potential to increase our operating costs.Read More in our TCFD Report
AT&T supports the Paris Agreement, as demonstrated by our public emissions reduction goals. Our 2030 science-based target for Scope 1 and 2 emissions aligns with a 1.5-degree pathway, exceeding the ambitions of the treaty. We’re also advancing toward a 2035 carbon neutral (net-zero Scope 1 and 2) goal. Underlying these goals are our commitments to a world-class energy efficiency program, continued renewable energy purchases and a transition to no- and low-emissions vehicles in our fleet. Through our Gigaton Goal, we are also pursuing global emissions reductions beyond our operations with a commitment to enable 1 gigaton of customer emissions by 2035.
We will continue to conduct climate engagement activities aligned with the Paris Agreement. Additionally, we support Goal 13 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (U.N. SDG) on climate action, specifically:
- Target 13.1, to strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries
- Target 13.3, to improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning
In addition to addressing the climate-related impacts of our corporate operations, we work with numerous organizations to publicly promote the use of technology to address climate and resource challenges. This includes industry groups such as GeSI, GSMA, the Clean Energy Buyers Association (CEBA), the Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance (CEVA) and business organizations such as the Business Roundtable (BRT).
As one of the founding members of the Third Derivative, an initiative started by Rocky Mountain Institute and New Energy Nexus, AT&T is helping scale promising solutions to spur our society toward a rapid reduction in global carbon emissions. We signed the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyer’s Principles and joined the Climate Leadership Council (CLC) in 2018 as a founding member. The CLC is working to promote a carbon dividends plan as a bipartisan, market-based solution to help reduce U.S. carbon emissions.
AT&T believes conservation of natural resources and reducing carbon emissions is critical to building climate resilience throughout our operations and helping reduce biodiversity loss. As part of our overall climate strategy, which has biodiversity impacts, we’ve worked with several external organizations over the last couple years. For example, in 2020, AT&T invested in the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) National Coastal Resilience Fund, which supports resilience projects in U.S. coastal states and territories, such as the Hogans Creek and South Baltimore Gateway Partnership restoration projects. Our collaboration with NFWF brings needed support to low-lying communities to help restore natural habitats and reduce exposure to coastal flooding risks. In 2021, we collaborated with the Arbor Day Foundation (ADF) and DroneSeed to plant more than 60,000 trees. The ADF Wildfire Restoration Collaborative works to pair private-sector partners with scalable urban and natural forestland projects to restore critical landscapes and address the urgency of wildfire recovery efforts worldwide. In late 2021, we launched a pilot program offering customers in Austin, TX the option to purchase accredited carbon offsets from local and regional deforestation projects and AT&T’s solar and wind energy investments. Through this initiative, we became one of the U.S. carriers to offered customers carbon neutral 5G devices and network usage. These new engagements build on our existing portfolio of programs committed to protecting natural resources, minimizing biodiversity loss and building climate resilience.
AT&T is also committed to responsible network installation and maintenance. For example, when commissioning a new cell site, AT&T works to measure, mitigate and address direct environmental impacts through third-party environmental assessments. AT&T follows applicable laws and regulations, including the National Environmental Policy Act - enacted to minimize the negative environmental effects to historical sites, Tribal lands, flood plains, wetlands and areas with endangered species.
- Scope 1 emissions include direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by the company (such as the fleet). Scope 2 emissions include indirect emissions that result from the generation of purchased energy.
- All 2021 data is inclusive of all AT&T operations (including DIRECTV, Vrio, Xandr and WarnerMedia). Note: In July 2021, we completed a transaction with TPG Capital involving our North America video business – including DIRECTV, AT&T TV and U-verse – to form a new company called DIRECTV. In November 2021, we completed the sale of our Latin America video operations, Vrio, to Grupo Werthein. In April 2022, we completed a transaction to combine our WarnerMedia segment, subject to certain exceptions, with a subsidiary of Discovery Inc. In June 2022, we completed the sale of the programmatic advertising marketplace component of Xandr Inc to Microsoft.
- Data does not include DIRECTV or Vrio. Note: In July 2021, we completed a transaction with TPG Capital involving our North America video business – including DIRECTV, AT&T TV and U-verse – to form a new company called DIRECTV. In November 2021, we completed the sale of our Latin America video operations, Vrio, to Grupo Werthein.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (as of June 27, 2022).
- The Global e-Sustainability Initiative’s (GeSI) SMARTer2030 report
- Calculated using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data
Related Priority Topics
- Climate Change Governance
- Climate Change Strategy
- Industry Collaboration
- Energy Management
- Renewable Energy
- Energy Projects
- Environmental Management System
- Assessments and Inspections
- Workplace Safety
- Scope 1 (Direct Emissions)
- Scope 2 (Indirect Emissions)
- Scope 3 (Other Emissions)
- Informing Customers
- Energy Efficiency
- End-of-life: Consumer Electronics
- General Solid Waste
- Hazardous Waste
- Water Goals
- Water Conservation Efforts