Sprint Gets Scope 3 Emissions in Sight with New Climate Commitment

Sprint Gets Scope 3 Emissions in Sight with New Climate Commitment

Image courtesy of Sprint.

We've heard a lot of buzz in recent weeks around Scope 3 emissions -- those indirect greenhouse gases generated outside a company's four walls, such those produced in the supply chain or from business travel or product use.

Just last week, companies received a boost when two prominent nonprofits released a much-anticipated framework to help them account for Scope 3 emissions.

Scope 3 emissions hit center stage again yesterday when Sprint announced a new climate goal in which they figure prominently.

The telecom company plans to reduce its entire carbon footprint by 20 percent by 2017 as part of its participation in the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) Climate Savers program. The goal covers all three emissions Scopes, the first two being direct emissions and those produced by purchased electricity, heat or steam. This makes Sprint the first U.S. Climate Savers member to target Scope 3 as part of its agreement (Dutch telecom KPN is also targeting Scope 3).

The goal is also noteworthy because it is more stringent than Sprint's previous goal of a 15 percent reduction in just its Scope 1 and 2 emissions, minus offsets for renewable energy.

Sprint's Network Vision initiative should prove to be a main driver in its emissions-reduction efforts, the company said in a statement yesterday. The program involves upgrading its wireless network to be more efficient while also providing better coverage.

Sprint also plans significant work with its suppliers to reduce Scope 3 emissions. As I reported in March, Sprint's top 10 suppliers represent 78 percent of its total supply chain carbon footprint, but the bulk of those impacts are produced further upstream. This reality has led the company to also target its suppliers' suppliers.

"We're going to ask them to have that same conversation around tracking, reporting and reduction goals with their suppliers, and on up the chain," Darren Beck, Sprint Nextel's corporate responsibility manager, told me at the time. "Once you get one or two connections removed, that is still something that we're still trying to figure out, as would anyone else who's taken any in-depth look in this space, is how do you drive that change further upstream. We'll be working on that one for a while."

Image courtesy of Sprint.