Australia’s largest telcom has become certifiably carbon neutral, but it had to look abroad to find suitable carbon abatement projects

Telstra announced today that it has officially achieved carbon neutrality ahead of its initial schedule, as certified by the Australian government. 


The Australian telco achieved their goal in part through internal projects, including saving >13,000 MWh of energy through energy efficiency initiatives and a further >18,000MWh through decommissioning old equipment. 


However, the majority of the carbon reduction required to become certified carbon neutral was achieved through the support of external projects, including two domestic Australian environmental projects and three taking place in India.


This reliance on Indian projects – primarily generating solar and wind-based power – may seem surprising at first, but Australia routinely performs poorly when it comes to environmental initiatives, whether that be defending the Great Barrier Reef or achieving carbon neutral targets. Indeed, at the end of last year Australia was ranked last of 57 countries in the 2020 Carbon Change Performance Index.


Telstra themselves lamented that they were forced to go abroad to find these green initiatives. 


“Our experience has been that it is extremely difficult to purchase carbon offsets from projects located in Australia. This is something that needs to be addressed because what it says is that there are not enough projects contributing to a reduction in greenhouse emissions,” read their statement.


As the power requirements for ever-growing networks continue to increase, the telecoms industry is seeing a much greater push in recent years to go green and telcos are quickly learning that doing so can ease the strain on their finances as well as their social conscience. Investing in a network’s energy efficiency can quickly pay for itself, as well as providing a nice PR opportunity.


Despite this carbon neutral certification, Telstra still has work to do to becoming a truly green enterprise. Electricty consumption amounted to over half of Telstra’s emmissions in 2019, with the company since committing to purchasing 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025 and reducing its absolute carbon footprint by 50 per cent by 2030.



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