By Ayate Temsamani, Climate Fellow
The Impact of Telecoms
The US telecom industry uses vast amounts of energy, with the major four companies collectively using over 30 million megawatt hours (MWH) of electric power every year—enough energy to power all the households in New York City.
This has mostly come from dirty energy sources, emitting 20 million tons of CO2 every year. That's why our Hang Up on Fossil Fuels campaign urges telecom companies do better. Currently, T-Mobile is the only telecom to set a 100% target, and it aims to meet that by 2021. That's why we've been putting pressure on AT&T and Verizon to meet T-Mobile's commitment.
Investing in clean energy would curb greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use that impacts the climate. And it would help to boost the US economy through the creation of green jobs.
Today, the world faces significant challenges: increasing shortages of raw materials, a steady rise in fossil fuel prices, and the effects of climate change already impacting communities and ecosystems globally. Countries are increasingly understanding that the fight against climate change and the efficient use of natural resources are critical. But the necessary changes also offer great opportunities for developing a more just and sustainable economy.
Opportunities for Green Jobs
Renewable energy has a large role to play in the transition to a low-carbon economy with better quality jobs. The renewable energy sector requires a multitude of skills to meet its manufacturing, engineering, installation, maintenance, and marketing needs across the country. People with various levels of qualification are benefited by the green jobs created through a clean energy transition.
Companies have also started to invest in special training and certifications to equip people with dynamic and agile skills to increase their chances to get a job. In fact, wind power technician is one of the fastest-growing jobs in the US, and AT&T has already announced plans to support students to develop new skills that match the needs of the renewable energy industry, through the AT&T Wind Energy Scholarship fund for the Texas State Technical College (TSTC).
Several million people nationwide are already working in green jobs. The Solar industry alone has created more than 350,000 jobs for Americans with major job growth projections in the future. In 2018, AT&T announced its acquisition of 830 MW of wind power, taking AT&T up to 30% clean energy and cutting more than 2.6 million tons of CO2 emissions. AT&T’s investment in wind power would create an estimated 1,000 construction jobs in Texas and Oklahoma and generate millions in property tax for local communities.
Investing in renewable energy delivers better quality and higher paid jobs. Landing a job in the renewable energy industry can lead to an 8-19% increase in income. Clean energy can also be installed in poorer, rural areas and thus boost economic activity, including in coal-dependent communities. According to Forbes, “wind will be cost-competitive and offer employment opportunities across the country’s second and third largest coal-producing regions, the Appalachian and Illinois Basins, by 2025.” The telecom industry can and should be part of this positive shift and provide a significant boost to the economy.
Tell Verizon to Take Action
After months of our campaign urging Verizon to commit to 100% renewable energy, the company released a commitment to reach 50% clean energy by 2025. This commitment would mean a reduction of 2.6 million tons of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent of taking nearly 600,000 cars off the road each year. This is a great step in the right direction, but the climate impacts won't be felt halfway - so action and solutions can't be made halfway. Verizon uses 12.6 million MWh each year, so if it moves rapidly to 100% clean energy, the climate and jobs impacts would be enormous. That's why we're calling on Verizon to set a 100% commitment to clean energy by 2025.