Several other companies have made public vows to shrink their carbon footprints. Amazon introduced a Climate Pledge in 2019 to put companies on a path to carbon neutrality by 2040. AT&T’s main U.S. rival Verizon is among the signatories of the pledge.
Under AT&T’s plan, WarnerMedia will expand its efforts to reduces the energy and resource consumption associated with film and television production. The entertainment unit will rely on “cleantech,” sustainable products, and reuse and waste-reduction eﬀorts.
Other priorities include making networks fully virtual (from about 75% now); switching to low-emissions vehicles and reducing the fleet size; supporting the renewable energy marketplace; and investing in carbon offsets.
The telecom and media giant said it is expanding its Climate Change Analysis Tool from four pilot states in the Southeast to the entire contiguous U.S. The tool enables it to identify the potential impacts of climate change on its network and operations up to 30 years into the future, according to a press release. Those projections cover flooding, hurricanes, drought and wildfires.
“Our network is tested by climate change and natural disasters every year,” CEO John Stankey said in the official announcement. “We recognize the long-term impact these commitments can have, and we owe it to the millions of customers who rely on our services to create the most resilient and sustainable business we can.”
Earlier this week, in an appearance at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia virtual conference, Stankey said COVID-19 has accelerated efforts to explore virtual work setups, even for traditionally office-based workers. Remote work could lessen the environmental impact of large companies, though the fate of traditional urban centers as a result of such a shift remains an open question.
“I think we’re going to change how we operate around here,” Stankey said. “I don’t believe we are an entirely virtual company. I think to do the kind of work we do we need a little bit of serendipity. We need people to be able to come in and collaborate and work and build relationships. But there’s no question that we have large parts of our business, they can be far more virtual than they were before and we’re moving down that path to do that.”