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Being bold: AT&T connects industries to a low-carbon future

Sponsored: AT&T’s new Connected Climate Initiative seeks to use 5G and other broadband connectivity to help accelerate a multi-industry transformation needed to reach global climate goals.


Smart Climate Solutions from AT&T. Image courtesy of James Brey.

This article is sponsored by AT&T.

Businesses large and small are feeling increased pressure to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and do their part to address climate change. And after President Joe Biden took the stage at the COP26 climate change conference this month to reiterate the goal of a 52-percent reduction in U.S. emissions by 2030, the race is on to develop solutions that will empower corporations and cities to meet this ambitious target.

Many companies may talk about sustainability, but not all know how to reduce their impact on the environment. That’s why in August, AT&T unveiled a new plan to help some of the highest-emitting industries, including transportation, energy and manufacturing, cut GHG emissions by one gigaton by 2035. That’s the equivalent of 19 percent of estimated U.S emissions for 2020, or the emissions reduction capability of 215,000 wind turbines running for one year.

Delivering connectivity solutions that enable our customers to be more efficient is something AT&T has been doing for years. Our gigaton goal is bold, but our past experience with customers makes us confident that we can achieve it.

Our plan, known as the Connected Climate Initiative, focuses on collaborating with some of the country’s leading companies including Microsoft; Equinix, the world’s largest digital infrastructure provider; and electricity giant Duke Energy. Together we will help AT&T’s customers and other businesses lower emissions in two ways: by making current equipment and processes more efficient and by enabling innovations that fundamentally change how industries operate.

Reducing emissions through efficiency at huge scale — the efficient building or the efficient logistics provider where even a small amount of efficiency translates into meaningful emissions savings — is critical to reaching our goal. 

An example of this is our work with Equinix, which has more than 220 data centers around the globe. Data centers are responsible for about 1 to 2 percent of electricity consumed worldwide, according to a study released last year. But companies such as Equinix are embedding sustainability — across the areas of environment, social and governance — in their business models to drive increases in efficiency and decreases in carbon emissions. AT&T and Equinix are working together to make it easier for customers to move their digital infrastructure to more environmentally sustainable facilities.

"As a data center company, we have a responsibility to efficiently manage our energy use. We have committed to becoming climate neutral by 2030 and reaching our 100 percent renewable energy goal by 2030. We already utilize over 90 percent renewable energy globally across our global data center portfolio. We are greening our customers’ and their customers’ supply chains, which enables them to reach their own carbon reduction and renewable energy goals," says Jennifer Ruch, director of sustainability at Equinix.

"Our customers need dependable and highly secure connectivity to make the move to the Equinix solution, and that’s why it’s so important to be working with AT&T to bring a complete solution to the market. And the fact that AT&T is committed to being carbon neutral by 2035 means that the joint solution is not only a great business decision, but also a great way to reduce emissions."

Just as important as efficiency is innovation. To become more environmentally sustainable, the world needs to find new, cleaner ways to power homes and offices, move goods and people, manufacture products and grow food.

A Connected Climate Initiative participant doing just that is Michigan-based transportation startup Traxen. Traxen’s product is built upon AI technologies, using perception sensors, high-definition maps and AT&T connectivity to provide a smart adaptive cruise control for trucking that optimizes driving speeds and acceleration with respect to upcoming road conditions such as traffic scenarios, grades, curves, speed limit changes and weather conditions. The system also considers the driver’s remaining hours of service and time-of-arrival requirements in its overall trip speed planning to minimize fuel consumption and reduce idling and backup at the arrival depot. 

Traxen’s solution reduces fuel consumption by up to an average of 10 percent, according to Traxen Founder and CEO Ali Maleki. Traxen estimates that 10 percent fuel consumption reduction translates to 5 billion gallons of petroleum or 50 million metric tons of CO2 saved for Traxen customers.

As part of our initiative, AT&T is looking to collaborate with even more global enterprises as well as small- and medium-sized businesses that may be looking for innovative, tech-enabled ways to mitigate climate risk or develop climate solutions.

We are also teaming up with leading research universities to explore how 5G technology may help accelerate the development and adoption of tech-enabled climate solutions. The Texas A&M University System’s RELLIS Campus will research how wireless 5G could speed emissions reduction in industries with large carbon footprints such as transportation, the University of Missouri is exploring how 5G may help reduce carbon emissions generated by buildings, and the Purdue Research Foundation will conduct research in the Indiana 5G Zone Lab to investigate how 5G might reduce GHG emissions in the manufacturing industry.

Learn more about the Connected Climate initiative and smart climate solutions from AT&T. Together we can build a more environmentally sustainable future.

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