Carbon emissions by mobile network operators declining: GSMA

The carbon emissions of mobile network operators declined by six per cent globally between 2019-2022, according to the GSMA’s fourth Mobile Net Zero report, which was released today at MWC Barcelona 2024.

The report reveals regional variations in the reduction of operational emissions, with Europe leading the way with a 50 per cent reduction, a release stated. In North America, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, emissions fell by 20-30 per cent.

Although operational emissions rose in China and the Asia-Pacific – the world’s largest and second largest mobile markets respectively – global emissions overall decreased, despite growing data usage, it said.

“Achieving the mobile sector’s target to reach net zero by 2050 relies on the industry cutting its emissions to 45 per cent below 2020 levels by 2030. This means that overall emissions – including Scope 1, 2 and 3 – need to fall by around seven per cent up to 2030,” the GSMA, which represents the interests of mobile operators around the world, said.

“Recent progress shows that this is possible, as the target reduction rate has been exceeded over the past three years for operational emissions in Europe, North America, Latin America and MENA (Middle East and North Africa).” The report notes, “improved data and further analysis are needed to better understand ‘Scope 3’ trends, which relate to emissions from operators’ supply chains.”

According to the analysis, “operational emissions fell despite surging demand for data and connectivity – the number of mobile connections globally rose by seven per cent between 2019-2022, while internet traffic more than doubled. The industry’s carbon reductions were largely driven by strong progress on energy efficiency and use of renewable energy.”

Commenting on the findings, John Giusti, chief regulatory officer at the GSMA, said, “the evidence shows that the mobile industry’s commitment to net zero by 2050 is paying off. Despite surging demand for connectivity and data, the global carbon emissions of operators continued to fall.

“Although we see the strongest early lead from Europe in the race to net zero, and encouraging progress in the Americas and MENA, this is a race that everybody needs to win – or else we all lose. We see what is possible where there is a focus on energy efficiency and access to renewables.”

In other GSMA news from Barcelona, the organization provided an update on its GSMA Open Gateway, an initiative composed of a a framework of universal network application programming interfaces (APIs) launched last year at MWC 2023 that is designed to unlock what was described at the time as the “full potential of 5G networks.”

Twenty-one mobile network operators joined initially, and since then that number has more than doubled. “Forty-seven mobile operator groups, representing 239 mobile networks and 65 per cent of connections around the world, have now signed up to the initiative,” a release said. “GSMA Open Gateway is focused on accelerating the growth of digital services and apps, by ensuring they integrate seamlessly with hundreds of participating networks around the world.”

Working with technology partners and cloud providers, including AWS, Infobip, Microsoft, Nokia, and Vonage, more than 40 mobile operator networks have now made a combined total of 94 APIs commercially available to enterprise developers in 21 markets across Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas, the GSMA said.

With online fraud and cybercrime being one of the biggest issues facing online commerce, the GSMA, mobile operators, and technology partners are first focusing the GSMA Open Gateway initiative on tackling online crime.

Recent activities, the GSMA said, include:

GSMA director general Mats Granryd said that the organization’s “collective job for 2024 is to nurture and grow this opportunity and provide ubiquitous access to enterprise developers and cloud providers, so they can do what they do best, which is launch game-changing new services that can maximize the benefits of 5G networks.”

The GSMA release went on to say, “according to research by McKinsey, GSMA Open Gateway and other network API initiatives can unlock significant value for the telecommunications industry, and businesses using 5G networks over the next six years.

“It’s forecast that, if operators can expose more of their network APIs and innovations to enterprise developer and cloud provider communities, then they can unlock an additional US$300 billion market opportunity by 2030.”

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Paul Barker
Paul Barker
Paul Barker is the founder of PBC Communications, an independent writing firm that specializes in freelance journalism. He has extensive experience as a reporter, feature writer and editor and has been covering technology-related issues for more than 30 years.

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