Verizon to Reduce Carbon Footprint 50% by 2020, CEO Says

At the Bloomberg New Energy Finance summit today, the CEO of one of the nation's largest telecom firms announced the company will be cutting its carbon intensity by half over the next decade. Verizon is the second biggest phone service provider in the country, and the largest wireless mobile phone provider, according to Businessweek.

"We're going to reduce our carbon footprint fifty percent," Lowell McAdam said in a sit-down with Bloomberg's Alix Steel. "We are now beginning to install solar arrays for powering our cell tower sites, and we've got our first data center powered by geothermal going in."

An accompanying release noted that the company would use its 2009 carbon intensity levels as a benchmark, and will hit its emissions reduction goal by 2020.

Verizon is using carbon intensity as a yardstick instead of emissions output, unlike most companies, probably because much of its business is transporting data. And as it becomes more efficient in that arena (as intends to do, and exponentially so), the company reasons that transmitting more information for less energy counts as reducing its carbon footprint. In other words, if it can halve the amount of energy required to send an iPhone photo from one unit to another, that savings falls under the reduction charter—even if it results in users sending twice the amount of data as a result.

In addition to improving data-transporting technology—which all telecom companies are working to do feverishly—the company will deploy renewable power projects, efficiency upgrades (including to its fleet of 35,000 vehicles) and smart metering to help hit its target.

Such measures have already brought significant gains in reducing emissions, McAdam says. "We've already reduced our footprint by thirty percent. The next twenty will be a little harder."

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