• Operator moves into new territory to firm up green credentials, and aims to galvanise suppliers to cut indirect (Scope 3) emissions.
  • Incentive behind new call illustrated by latest CDP report.
  • Major BT suppliers underline their sustainability commitments.

BT calls on supplier base to zero in on emissions

BT calls on supplier base to zero in on emissions

Source: veeterzy / Unsplash

BT’s procurement function has sought greater engagement with suppliers on carbon emission reduction targets, upping the ante on a wider Group plan to become carbon neutral by 2045 (BTwatch, passim).

The department is calling on “all” members of its supplier ecosystem to set net-zero targets, procure renewable energy, and benchmark emissions across their own supply chains to help BT achieve a 29%‑cut in ‘Scope 3’ carbon emissions by FY29–30 , against a FY16–17 baseline. A spokesperson for BT indicated that the Group is working with vendors with a view to reducing their carbon emissions by 42% within the same timeframe.

Suppliers — which account for more than two-thirds of the operator’s carbon emissions — are also being asked to join the SME Climate Hub and Race to Zero campaigns, two United Nations (UN)-backed initiatives that encourage greater action on climate change and disseminate decarbonisation targets and practices to members.

BT’s “Science-Based Target” (SBT) for FY29–30 is aligned with the COP21 Paris Agreement that seeks to restrict global temperature rises to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The SBT initiative (SBTi) is another UN and international charity-backed programme that links corporate goals with scientific estimates of the action needed to restrict global warming in line with COP21. BT is already said to have cut emissions from its supply chain by 8% compared with FY16–17 (BTwatch, #313). Also endorsed by SBTi is a goal of cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 87% by FY29–30, again compared with FY16–17 .

A matter of extreme importance

Recently, BT was awarded ‘A’-list status for the fifth consecutive year in CDP Worldwide’s 2020 ranking of companies that are “leading on environmental transparency and action”. Formally known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, CDP is an international organisation that helps investors, businesses, cities, states, and regions manage their environmental impact. It also enables accountability across value chains via its “disclosure platform” database.

CDP, founded in 2000, recently sought to highlight the urgency with which action on reducing supply chain GHG emissions should be treated. In its Global Supply Chain Report 2020, released last month, CDP claimed that failure to do so could cost businesses up to $120bn (£85bn) over the next five years. This is due, CDP analysts said, to greater public scrutiny, “regulation (on emissions)”, and market changes”.

The CDP report also said that while the number of suppliers disclosing data on their carbon footprint increased by 16% in 2020, only 37% are engaging with their own supply chains to cut emissions. Managing the direct impact of your own operations is no longer enough, it concluded.

Sustainability targets of BT suppliers (apparent)

  • Scope 1: Emissions from sources that are owned/controlled by an organisation.
  • Scope 2: Emissions from the consumption of purchased energy.
  • Scope 3: Emissions as a result of activities in which an organisation is engaged, but which are emitted from sources not owned/controlled by said organisation.
Sources: Companies.
  Headline targets (selected) CDP rating
Major suppliers 


Carbon-neutrality “across entire footprint” by 2030. Entails reducing emissions by 75% (against 2015 baseline) by 2030, and “investing in carbon removal” solutions to cut remaining 25%.

Already purchasing 100% of electricity from renewable energy sources to power “global facilities”.

A-list status.

Cisco Systems

Cut Scope1 and 2 emissions by 60% (against 2007 baseline) by 2022.

Reduce Scope3 emissions by 30% (against 2019 baseline) by 2030. Purchase 85% of “global electricity” from renewable energy sources by 2022.

A-list status.


Reduce Scope1 and Scope2 emissions by 35% (against 2016 baseline) by 2022.

Net-zero emissions by 2030 (in relation to its “own operations” — comprising Scope1 and Scope2 categories).

B-list status.


Operate on carbon-free energy “24/7” by 2030. Claims to have purchased electricity from 100% renewable energy sources since 2017.

Has been a net-zero business since 2007.


Huawei Technologies

Reduce Scope1 and Scope2 emissions per RMB 1m (£110,860) of revenue by 16% (against 2019 baseline) by 2025.

Will set emission reduction targets for “top 100 suppliers” by 2025.

A‑list status.


Cut carbon emissions across international footprint by 40% (against 2005 baseline) by 2025.

Purchase 55% of electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

A‑list status.

Juniper Networks

Longer-term targets include reducing Scope1 and 2 emissions by 42.5% (against 2018 baseline) by 2035.

A‑list status.


Cut Scope1 and 2 emissions to “near zero” by 2025, and reduce Scope3 emissions by 50% (against 2017 baseline) by 2030.

A‑list status.


Cut Scope1 and 2 emissions by 41% and Scope3 emissions by 75% (against 2014 baseline) by 2030.

A‑list status.


Carbon neutral by 2025, and reduce emissions by 85% (against 2016 baseline) by 2050.

Claims to already purchase 100% of electricity for facilities and data centres from renewable sources.

A‑list status.

European peers 

CK Hutchison Telecom Holdings (Three UK — direct rival)

Targets not yet apparent.

Set up a Climate Working Group in 2019 to formulate contingency plan.

B-list status, up from F-list in 2019 (meaning the organisation failed to disclose sufficient information).

Deutsche Telekom (part‑owner)

Reduce carbon emissions by 90% (against a 2017 baseline) by 2030.

Trim supply chain (scope 3) emissions by 25%-per-customer by 2030.

A-list status.


Reduce energy consumption by 44% by 2030 and achieve a 50% reduction in GHG emissions across supply chain by 2040 (against 2010 baseline).

A-list status.


On track” to become net-zero emissions business by 2040.

Source 50% of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025, against baseline of 18% in September-2020.

B-list status.

Telecom Italia

Exact targets not clear, but overarching goal is to become carbon neutral by 2030.

A-list status, up from B-list in 2019.


Net-zero emissions business by 2050 (net zero in core market operating businesses Brazil, Germany, Spain and UK by 2025). Reach 100% renewable energy consumption by 2030.

A-list status.


Group-wide” net-zero emissions business by 2050. Become carbon neutral across Nordic operations (scope 1 and 2) by 2030.

B-list status


Not apparent. Focused on improving way it measures scope 1 and 2 emissions footprint.

Not yet quantifying scope 3 emissions, as per last sustainability report in 2019.

F-list status.


Purchase 100% electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025. Aims to achieve this across European footprint by July 2021.

Cut emissions by 50% (against a 2017 baseline) by 2025. Goal of becoming net-zero business “nolater than 2050”.

A-list status.