Digital technology is helping us provide solutions to fight against global warming and meet our own target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2040, 10 years ahead of the rest of the telecom sector. This goal also requires us to make considerable efforts to reduce our direct and indirect CO2 emissions, for example by increasing our energy efficiency, proportion of renewable energies, circular economy, and carbon capture. This voluntary and comprehensive roadmap includes initial milestones to be achieved by 2025.
Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions
We’re committed to drastically reducing our CO2 emissions directly linked to our business activities by 2040, with the first goal of -30% to be achieved by 2025 compared to our 2015 emissions.
Our Green ITN program has resulted in us avoiding approximately 3 million metric tons of CO2 between 2010 and 2019 by improving the energy efficiency of our networks and information systems. Gradually, we are replacing our old network infrastructure and deploying new, more eco-efficient equipment. This is the case with our latest data centers open in Chartres and Val de Reuil in Normandy, which employ free cooling, a technology that reduces the use of artificial air conditioning by 80%.
Net Zero Carbon: a global commitment
To be Net Zero Carbon by 2040, Orange is committed to reducing 3 scopes of emissions: reducing our own CO2 emissions, reducing indirect emissions related to our energy consumption, and finally reducing the emissions generated by upstream by our suppliers and downstream by our customers,
These three commitments correspond to scopes 1, 2 and 3 of our Greenhouse Gas Protocol, validated by the SBTi (Science Based Targets initiative), which drives ambitious climate action in the private sector by enabling companies to set science-based emissions reduction targets.
In summary, to achieve Net Zero Carbon by 2040
We have defined an ambitious roadmap, with the first milestones in 2025, encompassing targets to increase our energy efficiency, proportion of renewable energies, circular economy, and carbon capture. Our objectives are monitored through performance indicators that demonstrate that our commitments are concrete and measurable.
Update on renewable energy in MEA:
Today, 5,400 of our telecom sites are already equipped with solar panels in the Middle East and Africa. As for our goal of meeting 50% of our electricity needs from renewable sources by 2025, we are already ahead of target in Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Madagascar. In Jordan, our three solar farms now meet 73% of the energy needs of our technical sites,
Reducing our upstream emissions linked to the purchase of goods and services, along with our fixed assets, will be done in cooperation with our suppliers (equipment manufacturers, transporters, etc.): this equates to scope 3 of the GHG Protocol. This is a significant environmental challenge because the impact of scope 3 emissions are six times greater than scope 1 and 2 emissions. We are also working downstream to reduce the emissions of our individual and business customers. We encourage them to change their everyday habits and raise awareness about reducing their energy consumption and making their equipment last longer.
During the 2022 African Cup of Nations football tournament, plastic waste was collected for recycling during matches organized across the continent as part of the Orange Sponsors Change competition. The mass adoption of the half-sized SIM card in 2020 has saved 300 metric tons of plastic linked to the 100 million new cards distributed each year.
Deploying the circular economy
Increasing the lifespan of products: at Orange, we promote all aspects of the circular economy. In our core businesses (networks, data centers…), we’re increasing our use of refurbished equipment.
In 2021, for example, we launched OSCAR, an internal marketplace to reuse existing equipment in our infrastructure. In addition, through network sharing in Spain and Belgium, we can redeploy any dismantled equipment to the countries where we are developing new networks, reducing the amount of new equipment that must be manufactured and extending the useful life of our reconditioned equipment.
Understanding the Circular Economy:
The main purpose of the circular economy is to produce goods and services in a sustainable way.
By limiting the consumption and therefore waste of natural resources, the circular economy breaks with the traditional practices of the linear economy (extract, manufacture, consume, throw away). It optimizes the use of goods and services (functional economy) and uncouples the reliance on resource consumption for economic growth.
From 2025, we are committed to ensuring that 100% of our Orange products follow an eco-design approach. The Livebox 6 was designed with its environmental impact considered from the start: in addition to being easily repairable and fitted with a 100% recycled and recyclable plastic shell, the new Livebox has a configurable standby mode that, once activated, reduces its power consumption.
Not only is the design different to previous generations, the Livebox 6 also has a reduced carbon footprint and integrates into a circular economy approach.” Fabienne Dulac, Deputy CEO of the Group, CEO of Orange France.
Our ambition also relates to the collection of used digital devices, collecting the equivalent of 30% of our mobile phone sales volumes in Europe and 20% in MEA by 2025. The challenge is considerable because 80% of the environmental impact of a smartphone is linked to its manufacturing and end-of-life phases. In France, we already collect nearly one in three mobile terminals (i.e., 16 million units since 2010) and 87% of used Liveboxes.
In 2025, we will offer mobile phone repair, trade-in, and refurbishment services to all of our European customers.
This type of service is already in place or will be available in our Orange stores soon:
Our device recycling initiatives have enabled us to develop, in partnership with Emmaüs International, a collection subsidiary that creates jobs in France and in Africa (Burkina Faso, Benin, Niger, Côte d'Ivoire, and Cameroon).
Investing in carbon sequestration
By 2040, our global approach will enable us to reduce our CO2 emissions by 80 to 90% (compared to 2015) by acting on scopes 1, 2 and 3 of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. To achieve our Net Zero Carbon target, even once we’ve made the maximum effort to reduce our emissions, there will still be 10% to 20% residual emissions, so we are investing in CO2 sequestration via carbon sinks that remove atmospheric carbon to reduce global warming and contribute to Net Zero accounting.
Understanding Carbon Sequestration
Carbon sequestration is a process that captures the CO2 present in the atmosphere and stores it in natural “carbon sinks” (oceans, forests, biomass, soils, etc.) through physical and biological processes such as photosynthesis. All these carbon sequestration solutions help reduce the amount of CO2 present in the atmosphere and fight against global warming.
As part of our Net Zero Carbon 2040 target, we’re launching the first European single-investor carbon fund. Announced on 8 December, Orange Nature will finance projects, including reforestation and restoring natural ecosystems, to the tune of €50 million. Carbon sink projects will be financed with no expectation of a return for the Group. The only remuneration will come from high-quality carbon credits or VCUs (Voluntary Carbon Units) obtained for each CO2 sequestration project.
Orange Nature adds a new dimension to the carbon sequestration projects that we have been supporting for several years. In France, we finance around thirty reforestation projects as part of a partnership with Alliance Forêts Bois. In total, 175 hectares of forest will be reforested in metropolitan France, representing more than 32,000 metric tons of CO2 sequestered.
Carbon sink projects help us ensure economic development and preserve local biodiversity in Europe and the MEA. This includes the Livelihoods Carbon Fund 3, reforesting pines in Spain, planting mangroves in Senegal, and more.
Overall, these carbon sequestration initiatives will produce a sufficient volume of carbon credits to capture a large part of our residual CO2 emissions by 2040.
Achieving our Net Zero Carbon goal will take a collective effort.
According to the 2021 Observatory of Digital Uses, more than a quarter of Europeans perceive digital technology as having a negative environmental impact, while the impact of the digital sector is still only 4% and that of operators 0.5%. While global energy consumption is increasing sharply due to the exponential rise in digital uses in all sectors: industry, cities, transport, buildings, etc., we are doing what we can to promote more sustainable and reasonable digital uses.