Aspect 1: Environmental concerns
One field of action in our CR strategy is “Low-carbon society.” It not only expresses our commitment to minimize the impact our business activities may exert on the climate, but also to tap into the opportunities for sustainable development offered by digitalization. When used properly, it can also make a valuable contribution to saving energy and thus slowing down climate change.
In order to handle the rising tide of regulatory requirements, especially from the EU, we established an internal, cross-divisional green deal task force in 2020. The purpose of the task force is to ensure that necessary measures and processes can be implemented without delay and to create the necessary transparency.
Our holistic environmental management system is based on the international ISO 14001 standard. A Group-wide environmental guideline brings together the main voluntary commitments to which the Group as a whole is subject. You can access this policy on our Group website.
Our investments in the network build-out make us one of the biggest investors in the industry. Rising demand for faster data services with full-coverage availability must not lead to an increase in CO2 emissions and thus accelerate global warming. That is why, by increasing energy efficiency – for instance at our data centers for network operations – we ensure that our energy consumption grows to a much lesser extent than the volumes of data we transmit. We also use renewable energy sources to decouple energy consumption from CO2 emissions.
For about the last two decades, climate protection has been steadily increasing in importance at Deutsche Telekom. Our Group-wide climate protection strategy covers the following aspects: “Emissions from the value chain,” “Renewable energy sources,” “Energy efficiency,” and “Enablement: positive climate-protection effects on our customers.” In 2019, the Group Board of Management adopted new, ambitious climate goals:
- By the end of 2021, we intend to source 100 % of the electricity used by the Group from renewables (Scope 2).
- By 2030, we plan to reduce our CO2 emissions (Scope 1 and 2) by 90 % (compared to 2017). We want to achieve this not only by switching to renewably sourced electricity, but especially by implementing energy efficiency measures.
- Over 80 % of our CO2 footprint arises from the production and use of our products. We plan to achieve a 25 % reduction per customer in these emissions by 2030 (versus 2017) (Scope 3, categories: purchased goods and services, capital goods, use of sold and leased assets). We maintain a close dialog with the suppliers in order to reduce the emissions generated during production and to ensure the products manufactured consume less energy during the utilization phase.
Since 2019, we have been a member of the international industry initiative GSMA. Within this initiative, we undertook to reduce our CO2 emissions (Scope 1, 2) to “net zero” by 2050 at the latest and thus make our business operations completely climate neutral. This undertaking within the framework of the GSMA industry initiative has since been expanded to include Scope 3 emissions, the goal being to eliminate the industry’s direct and indirect emissions altogether by 2050 at the latest. But in our view this target is not ambitious enough. That is why we intend to assess in 2021 whether we can reach climate neutrality faster.
We developed our new climate goals in line with the current scientific and political conditions. The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has confirmed to us that our climate protection targets contribute to compliance with the Paris Climate Agreement. The SBTi also gave a positive assessment of the targets of our subsidiaries in the United States and Hungary. In order to achieve these targets, T‑Mobile US has concluded long-term agreements with wind and solar park operators, which will give the park operators the necessary investment certainty. Consequently, there are now five wind parks and three solar parks in the United States that are either already connected to the network or are set to be connected in the course of 2021. In Germany, too, a wind park is set to be added to the network in 2021 as part of a long-term power purchase agreement.
We have reached our climate goal, adopted in 2013, to reduce the Group’s CO2 emissions by 20 % (compared to 2008, excluding T‑Mobile US). To differing extents, 40 business units in 29 countries contributed toward achieving this goal. The measures taken were varied, e.g., direct procurement of green electricity, enhancing energy efficiency, and acquiring guarantees of origin.
We calculate our CO2 emissions across the Group in line with the market-based method of the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) protocol. The standard distinguishes between three CO2 emissions categories (Scope 1, 2, and 3). We report on these each year as part of the CDP and in our CR and Annual Reports. The successful business combination of T‑Mobile US and Sprint to form the larger T‑Mobile US in 2020 also had a clear impact on our environmental data, with absolute energy consumption rising together with the resulting emissions.
Detailed information on year-on-year data trends will be published in our 2020 CR report.
The following graphic visualizes the emissions of the different scopes resulting from our business activities, shown as CO2-equivalents emissions (CO2e emissions).
The PUE (power usage effectiveness) metric serves as one indicator for enhancing the energy efficiency in our data centers. We determine this metric using the method recommended by The Green Grid Association, which takes the total energy consumed by data centers into account, not only that used to operate the servers. In 2020, the global PUE metric for our T‑Systems data centers was 1.61. Our high-availability, state-of-the-art data centers operated by T‑Systems in Germany are designed with even greater efficiency in mind, and as such are capable of achieving a PUE of 1.3. From 2008 to 2020, we reduced the average PUE metric for data centers in Germany from 1.85 to 1.50.
We determine the effectiveness of our climate protection measures using key performance indicators (KPIs). The KPIs Energy Intensity and Carbon Intensity for Deutsche Telekom (fixed-network and mobile entities) are shown in the following graphics. Both KPIs reflect our energy consumption and our CO2 emissions in relation to the volume of data transmitted, thus demonstrating how our network’s energy and emissions efficiency has developed in practice. The result for the Energy Intensity KPI is 119 and 23 for the Carbon Intensity KPI. For the Group as a whole in Germany, the Energy Intensity KPI stands at 60 and the Carbon Intensity KPI at 3.
Other metrics of importance to us are the Renewable Energy KPI and the Enablement Factor ESG KPI. The Renewable Energy KPI shows how much of our Company’s overall electricity consumption is obtained from renewable sources. In 2020, this amounted to 58 % Group-wide and 100 % in Germany. When calculating this KPI, we look at direct purchases, guarantees of origin, renewable energy certificates, the renewable energy we produce ourselves, and the proportion of renewable energy used across the countries. We use the Enablement Factor ESG KPI to calculate the positive CO2 effects facilitated for our customers through using selected products.
For further information, please refer to the section “Deployment of ICT products to the benefit of society.”
In order to effectively curb climate change, many relevant players must work together, which is why we participate in national and international associations and organizations, such as the Global e-Sustainability Initiative. We are also working systematically on improving climate protection throughout our supply chain. Since 2016, the CDP supplier engagement rating has assessed how well companies have integrated the topic of climate protection into their supply chains. In 2020, we were awarded an A rating by CDP and included on its Supplier Engagement Leader Board. Almost 70 % of our procurement volume is covered by the participation of our suppliers in CDP’s 2020 supply chain program.
Last but not least, handling valuable resources efficiently also plays a vital role in a holistic approach to ecological responsibility. In 2020, our existing “Stop wasting – start caring!” initiative was integrated into “We care for our Planet,” an end-to-end environmental program approved by the Board of Management in 2019. Whether in our Telekom shops, with our products and networks, or in terms of mobility – we have adopted an array of measures to conserve resources. For instance, energy-saving initiatives and improvements to our buildings helped us to cut our power consumption by around 137 GWh in 2020 – enough to satisfy the annual electricity needs of over 34,000 private households. What is more, all of Deutsche Telekom’s own products have had sustainable packaging since the end of 2020. We developed corresponding sustainability criteria precisely for this purpose. In addition, over 25 % of the packaging of new products we source from our suppliers already meets these criteria. We were also able to save 263 metric tons of CO2 through our subsidiary Comfortcharge’s operation of rapid-charging stations for electric vehicles. That is the equivalent of the CO2 emissions produced by a passenger car on a journey of 815,000 kilometers. One of the Group’s goals is to increase the proportion of electric vehicles in its fleet. Currently, around 10 % of the new vehicles ordered are electric. Various measures have been agreed to significantly increase that share in the coming years. Above and beyond that, the focus in 2020 was on expanding our “We care for our Planet” program and providing it with an international network. KPIs were developed for each component of the initiative, which will feed into our ESG KPIs. These KPIs help us measure our progress and also enhance public transparency of what we do.
For further information on the progress of our environmental program and on our KPIs, please refer to the 2020 CR report.
Conserving resources is also a goal of the Green Pioneers initiative launched by our employees. Thus far, 250 employees from around 45 locations in Germany have joined the initiative. Our Green Pioneers play a proactive role within the workforce, promoting awareness of resource efficiency at the workplace and providing impetus for our core business – and they do so voluntarily, on top of their professional duties. In 2020, some Green Pioneers held courses on environmental issues for their colleagues, with more than 700 employees in total taking part. Other Green Pioneers organized activities on sustainable mobility in the reporting year, such as “Cycling to work” and “Cycling at lunchtime.” These two cycling campaigns alone helped save more than 50,000 kg of CO2 by the end of September 2020. Similar grassroots initiatives by our employees have been launched at our national companies, like T‑Mobile Polska in Poland and OTE/Cosmote in Greece. Projects to conserve resources, e.g., campaigns to collect and recycle mobile phones and to avoid plastic waste, have also been implemented at our national companies.