Calling emission control: do you copy?

via Flickr © jemasmith (CC BY 2.0)

via Flickr © jemasmith (CC BY 2.0)

  • NGMN calls for an alignment of the entire mobile communications sector to address sustainability
  • ICT industry  must reduce emissions by 45% by 2030 to help keep temperature rise to 1.5c

The Next Generation Mobile Network Alliance (NGMN Alliance) says it’s seeking to align the   entire mobile communication sector - from component manufacturers to service providers - to address sustainability challenges together in line with the  ITU L.1470 Standard. This recommends that, if the ICT industry is going to meet the requirements laid out by the Paris Agreement on climate change, it will have to collectively reduce its emissions by 45% by 2030 and thus do its bit to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5c. 

The NGMN says it “urges all ICT companies to align investments with a 1.5°C trajectory in line with ITU L.1470.” It says it will develop requirements and calls for action to support achieving the 1.5°C trajectory, thus helping the full ecosystem to better identify their options and priorities.

In fact the NGMN has made sustainability the cornerstone of its network industry vision.  Its recent white paper, ‘6G Drivers and Vision’, sees it plant itself firmly in the sustainability camp with an avowed aim to address societal objectives as set out by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It launched its ‘Green Future Networks’ project in November 2020 to provide detailed guidance regarding the environmental impacts of the ICT sector’s network component and says it will develop requirements and calls for action in support of the 1.5°C trajectory, thus helping the full ecosystem to better identify their options and priorities. 

So this next phase of climate action by the industry looks likely to focus on the problem of getting the players to jointly own and then act in a concerted way on emissions control guided by what consultant Chris Lewis, of Chris Lewis Consulting, calls a “holistic understanding” of the complete network. 

“How much more power does a radio network consume than a fixed fibre equivalent? My guess is it’s a lot more, but nobody seems to know. I think the industry will have to come together as a whole to really get to grips with the power issue,” he told me in a recent interview

The idea of developing a holistic view and a collective responsibility for the network and the industry’s emissions, meshes well with the idea of the ‘circular economy’ as outlined last week by Telia Company (see - The $45-$80 billion circular opportunity for telcos).

The NGMN claims more than 20 of its member companies including mobile network operators, vendors, service providers and research institutions, already contribute with their efforts to a number of different and innovative topics, such as critical raw materials usage, a method on circular economy scoring or the use of lean packaging.

Sustainability is now centre stage

The evidence of the last couple of months seems to show that the industry has really fastened on to sustainability as its worthwhile central goal - the rising tide that lifts all ships. The extent to which individual companies within the ecosystem can demonstrate that they’ve aligned their activities with emission control will see their credibility rise in the eyes of potential investors, customers and, perhaps most important of all, young employees. 

“Orange has been pushing for network energy efficiency for years, and we are very proud of the outcome that 5G can deliver in achieving a more energy efficient design,”  claims Emmanuel Lugagne Delpon, Senior Vice President at Orange Labs Networks. 

Lugagne Delpon says “we are very excited to be involved in the NGMN initiative. We are convinced that it will have a definite contribution in making future mobile networks more sustainable, reducing their environmental impact despite the expected growth in usage”. 

The NGMN, keen to broaden its base of support, says that interested industry players are invited to join NGMN in this important initiative.

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