BT Demands Carbon Commitment From All Suppliers

BT has extended its pledge to reduce its carbon emissions across all operations by demanding that its suppliers now have similar carbon reduction agreements.

The British carrier said that its newly introduced Climate Change procurement standard is one of the first of its kind in the United Kingdom.

Essentially, this new standard is designed to encourage its suppliers to pledge themselves to making their equipment more environmentally friendly, by “prompting the use of energy efficiently and carbon reduction during the production, delivery, use and disposal of products and services supplied to BT.”

Supplier Commitment

The standard means that if a supplier wants to do business with BT, it has to undertake three minimum expectations. These are:

  • The supplier has a policy in place to address the challenge of climate change;
  • The supplier is actively measuring and reporting carbon, as well as other relevant green house gas emissions;
  • The supplier has set challenging targets to reduce emissions and is reporting on progress.

BT already has pledged to reduce its own carbon emissions and that of its customers by utilising  lower carbon products and services. For example the BT Vision Box is now 30 percent more energy efficient than its predecessor and all cordless home phones come with energy efficient power supply units as standard.

BT was also one of the companies that last month that urged Chancellor‎ George Osborne to set out a comprehensive green growth strategy in the forthcoming Budget.

And so far, the carrier is putting its money where its mouth is on the subject. Back in June last year for example, the carrier’s 2010 sustainability review found that BT had achieved a 54 percent reduction in the carbon intensity of its global business in comparison to its 1997 baseline year. This included the purchase of zero- and low-carbon electricity.

And BT said at that time that, in the UK, it had also reduced its absolute CO2 emissions by 7 percent in 2010, and 59 percent since 1997.

Big Spender

BT now says it is taking its green commitments to a new level by committing to buy lower energy products for its own use and within the work it does for customers. And there could be a big incentive for suppliers to sign up to BT’s Climate Change procurement standard, as the UK carrier spent £12 billion with thousands of suppliers during 2010.

BT has also collaborated with the Carbon Trust, by holding free, day-long workshops with its suppliers designed to help them with their own carbon reduction policies and share best practice.

“This is not something that we’re legally obliged to do, but we see this as key to delivering on our commitments on carbon reduction,” said Liz Cross, BT CSR strategy and policy for procurement. “We set our first carbon reduction target in 1992 and so initiatives like the workshops are a way for us to share what we’ve learned along the way. We’ve had really positive feedback from our suppliers on the workshops and we’ll continue working with them on their own carbon plans.”

“Such forward thinking initiatives enable companies at all points of the supply chain to harness the efficiencies, opportunities and reputational benefits of the low carbon economy now, and we hope other companies will follow suit,” said Hugh Jones, MD of Carbon Trust Advisory Services

BT’s Carbon Objectives

BT has previously stated that, by December 2020, it hopes to reduce its own CO2 emission intensity by 80 percent against 1997 levels. In particular, BT hopes that its corporate wind power project will produce up to 25 percent of its UK electricity consumption by 2016.

BT Wind for Change is the UK’s biggest corporate wind power project outside the energy sector. The carrier is developing sites across the UK – some on its own land and others on land owned by third parties.

But it seems that not everyone is buying into the concept. In 2009, a BT-supported research report found that the top 100 global companies were on target for reducing their emissions by just 1.9 percent per year. That was far below the 3.9 percent needed to achieve the target of cutting emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

This was backed up by research in January that found more than half of companies in the UK still have poor carbon and sustainability management.

In the UK, companies are already facing pressure to reduce their emissions thanks to the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), but uncertainty and confusion currently surround its introduction.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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