Mobile sector to slash carbon footprint 40% by 2020: GSMA

The GSM Association has called on the mobile sector to cut carbon emissions 40% by 2020 – and wants governments worldwide to adopt policies helping it hit that target.
Under a new “Green Manifesto” announced by the GSMA at its Mobile Asia Congress, the mobile sector aims to reduce total global greenhouse gas emissions per connection(which excludes M2M SIMs) by 40% by 2020. That target includes energy sources directly under cellco control, such as the radio network, buildings, and transport.
The manifesto also calls on the mobile industry to maintain its global carbon footprint at 245 mega-tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2e) over the next 11 years, even as the GSMA expects to grow the number of mobile connections 70% to eight billion in that time frame.
The calculations do not include the GSMA’s current initiative to install 118,000 alternate-energy base stations by 2012, which would save an extra 6.3 million Mt of carbon emissions.
Equipment vendors – while not GSMA members – are also covered in the manifesto. The GSMA intends to work with equipment vendors to ensure that the life cycle emissions of network equipment components are also reduced 40% by 2020.
Device-makers will also be encouraged to reduce handset power consumption – either in standby more or in active use – 40% by 2020. The GSMA’s universal charger project, which calls for a standard, more power-efficient charger by 2012 that can be used with any handset, is intended to play a major role in that goal.

GSMA CEO Robert Conway said the mobile industry was one of the few that can help other sectors reduce their footprints “by more than 4.5 times mobile’s own footprint, which is the equivalent of taking one in every three cars off the road” – provided the right government policies, frameworks and incentives are in place.
“Policymakers need to take the lead on this,” said Conway, adding that the GSMA will be pitching its manifesto at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen next month “to ensure that mobile solutions are at the forefront” of climate change policies.
Conway added the GSMA doesn’t currently have a mechanism in place to monitor its members' progress in hitting those targets, but is “working on the measurement aspect next to build a systematic approach with the GSMA as a vehicle so companies can report their progress on a standard basis.”
China Mobile chairman and CEO Wang Jianzhou told the press conference his company not only would meet the manifesto’s targets, but possibly do so before 2020.
“We started a Green Action Plan two years ago to reduce our power consumption by data unit 20% by 2012, which will save 11.8 billion kilowatt-hours,” Wang said.
But he said the operators plans to deploy more alternative-energy base stations depended on price.
“To be frank, solar or wind-powered base stations are expensive – they cost about 50% higher than an ordinary base station,” he said.
Kevin Tao, CEO of Huawei Devices, said the vendor supplied China Mobile with 20,000 base stations with power efficiencies that can reduce each site’s carbon footprint between 20% and 30%, as well as 1,500 base stations using solar or wind power.
Robust mobile infrastructure meanwhile will be essential if ICT is to maximize its potential of reducing carbon emissions by 25% in G20 countries from 2006 levels, research firm IDC said.
“Our research shows that use of capacity in mobile and fixed infrastructure, integrated with energy efficient IT infrastructure, is required to support the technologies [capable of reducing emissions],” IDC VP Vernon Turner said.
IDC has identified significant reductions that can be made across multiple sectors - including energy, construction, transport and industry. The company will present its findings on December 10, on the eve of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.