By Gerrit Jan Konijnenberg, Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF)

The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector is responsible for about 2% of all global emissions – about the same as the aviation industry, so ICT businesses need to make real efforts to contribute to easing the climate crisis.

However, it is estimated that by helping other industries reduce their emissions through the development of new technologies that result in companies and consumers saving energy, the ITC could be responsible for a reduction in emissions of around 12.1 gigatonne of CO2 by 2030. Potentially, the mobile and ICT industry could become a net negative sector. But that doesn’t mean that individual ICT businesses won’t be making the same efforts as every other company and organisation in other sectors. Efforts that your business should be making.

Where we are

If our carbon dioxide (or equivalent gases – collectively known as CO2e) are not dramatically reduced over the next ten years, we will be unable to keep global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Centigrade compared to pre-Industrial levels. Once we pass that tipping point it will get even more difficult to bring climate change back within control.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. By accepting the dire state of affairs, we can all examine our impact and make necessary changes.

From a business perspective, there is growing pressure and expectation from consumers for businesses of every size to take accountability for their impact. And as the public becomes more educated and aware of the issues, they will hold businesses to a higher standard.

So, it’s not a question of if you should take action but when you take action.

Key challenges and solutions

Behavioural change can be a challenge. Habits are hard to break. Many managers prefer employees to be in the office all the time, for example, in order to maintain oversight. But the coronavirus lockdowns proved that people can work just as effectively, if not more, from home. Taking the hands off the reins can be a little intimidating at first but can be managed.

Despite the difficulty of behavioural changes, they can often prove the easiest and most cost-effective. One business simply put a sign in the lift detailing the energy cost of riding to each floor, asking people to consider whether it was necessary. This led to a huge reduction in people using the lift over the stairs, dramatically reducing their energy use (which also saved money). It was a five-minute job to print out and affix the sign, which cost very little, yet had a huge impact.

Seeking innovation

Finding novel ways to reduce emissions is another key challenge. There is lots of information out there but not all of it will be relevant and much won’t be particularly innovative. However, you could incentivise employees to bring their best ideas, leading to greater awareness and encouraging behavioural changes while also developing truly innovative ideas.

Communicating and sharing these ideas should also be encouraged. Perhaps consider setting up a local business group dedicated to sharing emission reduction ideas and impacts. Not only might you help another business cut its emissions, but you might also find new ways to cut your own. It can also prove a big morale boost in what can sometimes feel like an overwhelming fight against climate change.

Overcoming the fear and perception of emissions reduction being necessarily a loss-making activity can prove another key challenge. Emissions reduction requires time and resources, it may involve setup and maintenance costs, and offsetting will always involve some costs.

However, over time, these changes will increase efficiency, reduce waste and drive innovation of new products and services. Eventually, these activities will more than pay for themselves – it just requires taking a long-term view.

Consider also that not taking action will soon (if not already) be a competitive disadvantage. If every other business is making changes and communicating them to their customers and employees, they will have an advantage in marketing as well as in hiring the best talent.

Spread good news

Talk about your actions to tackle climate change. It is good PR for your company and by communicating your positive efforts and successes you can inspire other businesses to take actions of their own.

It helps to share good news stories about how environmental projects and sustainability initiatives are working. Last year, for example, the EU produced 22% of its electricity from wind and solar power – more than produced from gas.

Some other recent good news stories:

    • Researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a system that can convert greenhouse gasses and plastic into two sustainable fuels using solar power.


    •  Deforestation in the Amazon has fallen by 61% in January compared to the previous year.


    • Last year, newly installed heat pumps across Europe avoided 8 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.


The singular most effective weapon against climate change is hope. While the scale of the problem should be known, felt and understood, it is only with hope that we will effect meaningful change.

About the author

Gerrit Jan Konijnenberg is Special MEF Board Advisor and Initiator of sustainability activities at the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF). MEF is a global trade body established in 2000 and headquartered in the UK with members across the world. As the voice of the mobile ecosystem, it focuses on cross-industry best practices, anti-fraud and monetisation. The Forum provides its members with global and cross-sector platforms for networking, collaboration and advancing industry solutions.