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Incorporating climate-change considerations into business
Telefónica’s experience
photo credit: Telefonica

For Telefónica SA, fighting against climate change goes beyond environmental or corporate responsibility policies; rather, it is a challenge that we must meet for reasons of finance and efficiency. It is also a new source of business opportunities that may contribute to reinforcing our competitive position in a global context.

In 2008, Telefónica created a Climate Change Office that has five action lines led by the most senior director in each area: operations, procurement, human resources, customer relations, and social responsibility. This functional structure makes project implementation more agile, as well as naturally bringing together the group’s institutional, operational and business strategies.

The Climate Change Office has two converging objectives. The first is to reduce the energy consumption of Telefónica by increasing internal energy efficiency, and the second is development of new and competitive products and services that lead other sectors to be more efficient and reduce their carbon footprint.

Operations: Energy efficiency and green technology

This action line focuses on promoting energy efficiency and maximizing renewable energy use in Telefónica’s own operations (networks, data centres and information systems). Telefónica’s target is to cut by 30 per cent its electricity consumption per equivalent access in networks by 2015. This will reduce considerably the CO2 emissions of the company.

In 2009, Telefónica created a best practice manual for the group on energy-efficiency projects at various levels of investment. In addition, there is a regional and local approach for energy management.

Employees: Awareness-raising and commitment

Telefónica wants to foster climate-change awareness among its workforce, and is pursuing the goal of reducing energy consumption in its offices by 10 per cent by 2015. To achieve this, Telefónica promotes energy efficiency and new working methods, such as teleworking, which allows employees greater flexibility while also avoiding journeys to work.

Procurement: Sustainable purchases

Telefónica’s Purchasing and Shared Services Management Team aims to implement procedures that take into account energy efficiency and carbon content in the company’s purchases of products and services. In 2008, an energy factor was made a mandatory part of purchasing processes, through the development of energy information sheets on network equipment, air-conditioning equipment, information technology, and customer-targeted products. Telefónica has global purchasing programmes which make it easier to apply energy efficiency into procurement policies across its whole group of companies.

Society: Responsibility and information

Led by the Corporate Reputation and Identity Management team, this action line’s main objective is to reinforce Telefónica’s position as a key player in the fight against climate change.

Telefónica is part of the Climate Change Working Group of the Global E-Sustainability Initiative and is continuously communicating the benefits of information and communication technologies (ICT) for mitigating climate change.

Customers: Towards a low-carbon economy

The action line relating to the group’s customers is led by the Business Development and Corporate Marketing team. Telefónica understands that the greatest potential of ICT lies in increasing energy effi ciency in other sectors — an opportunity that could reduce 15 per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020*.

There are many practical examples of the benefits and opportunities for reducing carbon that ICT brings to other sectors. One of the most common is the use of sophisticated telecommunication services such as videoconferencing to reduce travel requirements. Other examples where ICT have been extensively used for reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions are in the use of intelligent transport systems, and in the improvement of energy efficiency in power transmission and distribution networks (smart grids), buildings (smart buildings) and factories.

Telefónica’s goal, therefore, is to develop products and services that can reduce energy consumption. For example, Telefónica has installed several telepresence rooms in its offices in Latin America and Europe. As well as saving travel time and CO2 emissions, this technology promotes a collaborative international culture among Telefónica employees and serves as a demonstration of the service to other companies.

Another service of Telefónica, called “inmotics”, is a technology that allows energy consumption within buildings to be automatically controlled and reduced. The implementation of this service cut about 27 per cent from the energy bills of several banking institutions in 2008.

In conclusion, Telefónica believes that the ICT sector itself must work to reduce its carbon footprint, while also supporting other sectors and society as a whole to reduce their impact on climate change by providing products and services that can help them to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions.

“Smart 2020 Report. Enabling a Low Carbon Economy”, The Climate Group, 2008.


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