Asia, Euro telcos top green network charts

Yanitsa Boyadzhieva
By Yanitsa Boyadzhieva

Feb 6, 2024

  • The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) has issued its annual ranking for leading companies in environmental disclosure and performance
  • Twenty-two network operators have received the highest possible ranking for efforts to mitigate climate change
  • Telcos from Asia and Europe dominate the ‘A List’ ranking
  • Several vendors have also been recognised in the 2023 list

More than 20 telecom network operators have been recognised for their transparency efforts on climate change in a new global ranking, with the majority of the top performers based in Asia and Europe.

For its ‘A List 2023’ ranking, non-profit organisation the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) assessed more than 21,000 companies on their environmental disclosure and performance.

It identified a total of 22 top-performing telcos that demonstrate “environmental leadership” by disclosing and measuring their climate impact, as well as taking “tangible, measurable actions” to combat climate change. The ‘A’ score is given to companies that show “best practice in strategy and action” as recognised by various frameworks, such as the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and the Accountability Framework. 

“As well as having high scores in all other levels, these companies will have undertaken actions such as setting science-based targets, creating a climate transition plan, developing water-related risk assessment strategies, or reporting on deforestation impact for all relevant operations, supply chains and commodities,” the CDP explained in regard to its scoring criteria.

Breaking down the results for 2023 geographically, two regions in particular, Europe and Asia, boast the highest number of leading telcos in terms of environmental disclosures.

Across Europe, the ‘A’ score was bestowed upon BT Group, Deutsche Telekom, Elisa, Proximus, Swisscom, Tele2, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telekom Austria and Vodafone Group. While the top Asia-based telco accolades in CDP’s list went to Chunghwa Telecom, NTT, NTT Data, Reliance Jio, Singtel, SK Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, Telstra and Turkcell.

US operator AT&T and Telecom Italia’s South American unit, TIM Brasil, were also recognised as leading telcos in terms of climate change-related disclosures and performance.

Singaporean operator Singtel claimed to be the first South-east Asian telco to achieve the top rating, adding that its score was raised from ‘A-minus’ in 2022 thanks to its “sustained environmental stewardship efforts, including demonstrated emissions reductions and target setting, value chain engagement, and improved environmental disclosures”. Since 2015, the telco has invested 150m Singaporean dollars (SGD) (US$111.4m) in various initiatives to tackle climate change, such as using renewable sources for electricity needs, deploying solar panels at its facilities, and using AI and machine learning (ML) to optimise the energy used by its network.

It also claimed to be the first telco in the continent to have renewed targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) – see Singtel escalates its sustainability efforts.

In Europe, Tele2 also took the opportunity to highlight its inclusion in the ‘A List’, pointing out in its statement that it is the only Swedish operator to be ranked as a leader in corporate transparency and performance on climate change. This is the second ‘A’ ranking in a row awarded to the telco.

“We are very proud of Tele2’s placement on CDP’s ‘A List’ for the second year in a row, and that our efforts for climate action and transparency are continuing to receive international recognition. With our ambition to lead in sustainability, the ‘A’ ranking by CDP is also proof that we are moving in the right direction,” said Erik Wottrich, head of sustainability at Tele2.

Cellnex is another European network operator that has previously featured on CDP’s ‘A List’. In an emailed statement, the company explained that it is being recognised by the organisation for the fifth year in a row, for its “transparency and commitment in tackling climate change”. More specifically, the neutral host telco infrastructure operator noted that it had excelled in “opportunity and risk disclosure, business strategy, financial planning and scenario analysis, such as by setting ambitious and meaningful targets.”

“Environmental protection and combating climate change are two of the fundamental pillars supporting Cellnex's sustainability strategy. Inclusion in the ‘A List’ underscores the efforts the company is making to develop and effectively implement good environmental practices and internal monitoring and governance of these. Public and private organisations must take on climate change as a shared effort to guarantee a sustainable planet with a future for the generations ahead,” explained Àngels Ucero, director of sustainability at Cellnex.

Telefónica was named a global leader in terms of its transparency in taking climate change-related action for the tenth consecutive year. According to the telco group, it received the top ranking after being assessed on how it “approaches its commitment to the planet, decoupling its growth from its environmental footprint by having reduced CO2 [carbon dioxide] emissions in its operations (Scopes 1 and 2) by more than 80%, through the introduction of more efficient technologies, as well as the use of renewable energies in 100% of its facilities in Europe, Brazil, Chile and Peru”.

The operator added that it is working to be a zero-waste company by 2030. “Being on the CDP A List for a decade demonstrates the strength of our environmental commitment and encourages us to continue aligning our business model with the most ambitious scientific climate recommendations. At Telefónica, climate change management is part of the company’s strategy to build a greener future through digitalisation,” stated Elena Valderrábano, global chief of sustainability (ESG) at Telefónica.

Telecom Italia’s score was an improvement on last year’s ‘B’ rating, making it “one of the world’s promoters of concrete initiatives to combat climate change”. According to the operator, its enhanced performance is due to its decarbonisation strategy, which sets long-term targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through energy efficiency, increased use of renewable energy and opting for sustainable suppliers. Since 2022, the telco has added two targets to its plan, such as a 47% reduction in upstream and downstream emissions (Scope 3) by 2030 and net-zero emissions across all scopes by 2040.

Aside from telcos, a number of other notable names from the communications networking sector also appeared on CDP’s top-ranking list, including Cisco, Equinix, Huawei, Intel, NEC, Palo Alto Networks, Tech Mahindra, Thales and ZTE.

In a statement, NEC noted that it has found itself on the ‘A’ list of CDP for the fifth consecutive year due to its efforts to mitigate climate change and actions in terms of water security.

Finally, ZTE explained that some of its recent sustainability efforts include holding more than 650 green innovation patents and adding 22MW of photovoltaic power-generation capacity in 2023, which it claimed represents a 700% year-on-year growth.

- Yanitsa Boyadzhieva, Deputy Editor, TelecomTV

Email Newsletters

Sign up to receive TelecomTV's top news and videos, plus exclusive subscriber-only content direct to your inbox.