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Debra Born headshot

Verizon Stands Firm on Commitment to Become Carbon Neutral by 2035

By Debra Born
Verizon Innovative Learning schools boost digital inclusion

Building upon a series of pledges to become a more sustainable business, the largest telecommunications company in the U.S. recently confirmed its goal to become carbon neutral by 2035.

The affirmation applies to Verizon’s announcement in April 2019 that it would take on its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. Additional goals include plans to slash electronic waste, decrease water consumption and do its part to counter deforestation.

According to Verizon, “This announcement underscores how the private sector can mobilize its business and resources further to build a more sustainable planet.”

What exactly is Verizon promising?

For a company, going carbon neutral means generating no net positive release of carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere, either by powering its operations with renewable energy or through more indirect tactics such as buying renewable energy credits (RECs) or carbon offsets. Such a policy means adopting tactics to balance out an organization’s carbon emissions with the desired result: a net zero carbon footprint.

Plans for getting that net zero carbon footprint can be as simple as planting enough trees that will produce oxygen to offset a company’s C02 emissions. However, Verizon insists it is taking a more aggressive approach to carbon neutrality.

“Sustainability and social responsibility are part of Verizon’s DNA,” Jim Gowen, Verizon's chief sustainability officer and vice president of supply chain operations, said last year. “As an emerging leader in sustainability, Verizon understands its responsibility to continuously evolve and innovate to meet new challenges and expectations.”

How will Verizon meet this carbon neutrality goal?

In promising to go carbon neutral in just 15 years, Verizon has some big changes to make.

To start, the telecom giant plans to attack the problem at its source by cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions. It also plans to increase the use of renewable and clean energy.

According to the company, it is already on this path by deploying a bevy of programs. These include giving customers options to reduce their own carbon footprint when using Verizon’s services; leasing space in energy-efficient buildings; deploying internal green teams across 44 countries; installing onsite renewable power installations; and, at last count, planting at least 724,000 trees with a goal of 2 million by 2030.

As a result, the company will:

  • Source or generate renewable energy” equal to half of its total annual electricity consumption by 2025.
  • Add at least 24 megawatts of onsite clean power generation mid-decade.
  • Reduce carbon intensity by 50 percent from a 2016 baseline.

One of the more compelling initiatives Verizon is taking on is its 2019 issue of a $1 billion green bond. The company says the proceeds will fund various initiatives related to renewable power, energy efficiency technologies, green building projects, water conservation and biodiversity.

What other steps is Verizon taking to be more sustainable?

Although the pledge to go carbon neutral is impressive, especially for a company of its size, it is just one in a long list of Verizon’s recent sustainability goals. Those initiatives have grown in number and intensity, and last year, Gowen told Green Tech Media Verizon is “in the midst of a sustainability evolution.” 

And that’s not all. Results from Verizon’s past goals proved the company is serious about becoming more sustainable and responsible. In 2018, Verizon said its sustainability progress included eliminating 8.2 million tons of C02 emissions, repurposing, reusing or recycling 100 percent of all wireless devices and accessories, and offsetting 20,000 metric tons of CO2 through various clean energy initiatives. Verizon’s pledge to go carbon neutral, as the company’s CEO, Hans Vestburg, reiterated during last week’s World Economic Forum meetings in Davos, could build upon those successes.

Reducing its carbon footprint through targeted sustainability initiatives has long been a goal of the telecom giant; its efforts may inspire its competitors, and companies in other sectors, to step up their sustainability game.

Image credit: Verizon

Debra Born headshot

Debra is a writer and public relations professional based in Upstate New York. Her other interests include graphic design, photography, nature and animals. You can find her on LinkedIn

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