Verizon pledges to go carbon neutral by 2035

Verizon chose today, Earth Day, to announce that the company will go carbon neutral by 2035 in terms of all sources of emissions owned or controlled by Verizon and all sources of emissions purchased by Verizon.

The main sources of emissions owned by Verizon include fuel to power its fleet, heat it buildings and power its backup generators. Indirect emissions come from energy sources generated off-site that are then purchased by Verizon. The sources for these indirect emissions are electricity to power its networks and data centers, plus a small amount of steam and heat purchased to heat its buildings.

James Gowen, Verizon’s chief sustainability officer, said 93% of the company’s greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity usage. “With over 93%, we’re going to be focusing on renewables and that’s where we spend money,” he said.

Gowen called today’s announcement of its 2035 goal is the “trifecta” of the company’s green initiatives.

Late last year, Verizon pledged to source renewable energy equivalent to 50% of its total electricity usage by 2025. Green Century Capital Management, a firm that offers three environmentally responsible mutual funds, said after Verizon’s December 2018 pledge: “Verizon’s new goal aligns it better with its industry peers, such as T-Mobile and AT&T, which already had announced ambitious renewable energy pledges. Verizon’s previous renewable energy sourcing goal only extended to its owned properties, which cover just 4% of the company’s annual energy usage.”

And in February, Verizon launched a $1 billion green bond, and it plans to use the proceeds to fund various sustainability initiatives including renewable energy, green buildings, energy efficiency, and sustainable water management. Verizon anticipates that a majority of the funds will be allocated within three years.

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With today’s announcement of carbon neutrality by 2035, it looks like Verizon will have to raise the bar on its renewable energy goal.

Gowan said in addition to renewables such as solar, fuel cells, and “potentially some wind,” the company is also pursuing power purchase agreements in which a developer and/or energy provider builds a new renewable energy source, such as solar, and Verizon contracts with them to buy the power.