In 2015, the Paris Agreement was adopted by 196 parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties (or COP21) on December 12, 2015, and came into force on November 4, 2016. It confirms that ´holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”
The science is clear, to minimize the damages and irreversible climatic tipping points, we need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
The Exponential Roadmap states that to have a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, we now need to focus on halving global emissions by 2030, towards net-zero by 2050 at the latest. And the first halving is crucial. If the world continues to emit greenhouse gases at current levels, the global carbon budget for 1.5 degrees is gone within less than seven years.
But hope is not lost. When facing a problem, we must seek solutions.
Technology for climate action
At Ericsson, our climate targets are aligned with the 1.5 degree ambition, and we work with our industry to reduce our carbon footprint. But it doesn’t stop there. We can also be a part of the solution through our partnerships and solutions. Our technologies such as AI, 5G, cloud computing, can enable a reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions in other sectors by 15 percent across multiple sectors, by 2030.
As a result, we’re working with energy, transport and industry sectors around the world to start applying 5G and digitalization as a solution to combat climate change and global heating.
Is halving emissions by 2030 possible?
In 2020, Ericsson reduced its emissions considerably. Since 2012, we’ve reduced our emissions from fleet vehicles, facilities, outbound product transportation and business travel by 71 percent. From 2016, following our Science Based Target baseline, we’ve achieved a reduction of 57 percent. For the 50 percent reduction needed in the next years, we more than halved in four years.
However, this is not enough. We need to continue, and target our whole value chain. We’re working with our suppliers to also get them to set 1.5 aligned climate targets, and we’re working with product design and materials to reduce supply chain emissions. Above all, our priority is to work on the impact of our products and offerings. Here, we have a groundbreaking holistic approach called ‘Breaking the energy curve.’ This report demonstrates how service providers can deploy 5G on a mass scale while still managing to reduce the energy consumption of their networks.
To support our industry further, and as a part of our ITU work, Ericsson was a contributor to the approved standard ITU L.1470 “GHG emissions trajectories for the ICT sector compatible with the UNFCCC Paris Agreement, which outlines how ICT companies should set science based targets.
2021 heralds an inflection point in climate advocacy and action
2021 is an important year, not only because we need to act faster, but also because the next UN climate change conference, COP26, will take place in Glasgow in November. It’s crucial that our global leaders make good progress in the negotiations, and tackle the challenges that impinge our future. Ericsson wanted to support global climate action further, so together with our partners at the Exponential Roadmap initiative and We Don’t Have Time, we’ve created a series of three events leading up to what we’re sure will be an inspirational COP26 in Glasgow.
The Exponential Roadmap Initiative brings together innovators, scientists, companies and NGOs, with the goal to halve emissions before 2030 through exponential climate action and solutions.
We Don’t Have Time is a social network for everyone who wants to be a part of the solution to the climate crisis. The power of many enables them to influence businesses, politicians and world leaders to act. We Don’t Have Time’s average social media reach is 25 million, with peaks of 50–80+ million during months when the company hosts a major broadcast.
By combining our strengths and foundation in science, business, and the power of social media with these two partners, we wanted to create a platform, and momentum for engagement that can be the foundation for knowledge and hope, leading up to COP26.
We know our combined efforts can reach many people, as we had our first event in 2020 during Climate Week in New York city, and reached over 8 million people via Twitter during the event.
This year, we have three events, starting with Financing the Race to Zero, which will take place on Earth Day, April 22. For this virtual event, we’ll have world renowned scientist Johan Rockström speaking, as well as Patricia Espinoza, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Those attending from Ericsson include our CFO Carl Mellander, our President and CEO Börje Ekholm, and Mats Pellbäck Scharp, Head of Sustainability. A particular highlight will be a keynote from our CFO who will outline how digitalization and 5G are crucial for a dematerialized sector to achieve growth while reducing resource usage.
The second event will be held on September 23 during Climate Week, and the grand finale event will be at the COP26, where we’ll broadcast live from the premises. The show will focus on global solutions, and we’ll be talking to some amazing innovators and speakers who’ll inspire and show that the climate solutions exist. This has been the premise on which the Exponential Roadmap was developed – to show that it’s feasible to scale existing solutions to halve emissions by 2030. It’s now our mission to make the maximum use of 5G and ICT technology to make this a reality.
COP26: what should we expect?
”For the Exponential Roadmap Initiative, COP26 will be a landmark event to encourage a critical mass of key players to start halving emissions by 2030 towards zero. This will enable the fastest economic transition in human history,” says Johan Falk, co-founder and Head of Exponential Roadmap Initiative. “Today, the number of companies making net zero commitments is growing exponentially, but the winners of tomorrow are the ones transforming and disrupting their industries towards zero emissions –technology companies are essential to enable this major transition.”
Ingmar Rentzhog, founder and CEO of WeDontHaveTime.org continues: “COP26 is the place to be to show our world leaders that people and businesses wants climate action. Now! The climate movement is building momentum and COP26 is a crucial moment in time where we can transform this momentum into action and political willpower. The ambition of We Don’t Have Time is to open up the global climate meeting so that everyone can participate and engage in the climate dialogue wherever they are in the world.”
COP26 will show us the outcome of what world leaders are willing to do to combat climate change. But for Ericsson this is not enough. We need to influence discussions, and make everyone understand how digitalization can support GDP growth and innovation while supporting global climate action. Each country should have digitalization solutions and enablement potential as part of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the upholding of the Paris Agreement . Within these NDCs, solutions like 5G and IoT are powerful mitigation technologies that can create a platform for a more sustainable and innovative society. However, the necessary investments in accelerating the rollout of these enabling technologies need to be made today. Collectively, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to act, and harness the power of technology to address social, economic and environmental inequalities. That opportunity must be taken now if we’re to halve global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
As partners organizing this series of events, we hope that the year 2021 will be different. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen how immediate actions are necessary to repress the virus, which spread throughout the world like wildfire. But with climate change and its physical impacts on countries and populations, no amount of lockdowns will help the people affected. This is why we need to act now. We don’t have time – we need exponential change within finance, technology and policy making to be able to achieve our goals. Note if we’re successful, not only will we combat climate change, we’ll also elevate our society to become more technical and evolved in the process.
Sign up for our series of events by registering at WeDontHaveTime.org/EarthDay
Read more about Ericsson’s work with sustainability and corporate responsibility.
Read more on how Digitalization with 5G enables further acceleration of climate action
Read our blog post, The Great Reset: the power of collaboration.
This is how sustainability is a value creator for business and society.