Ericsson: 5G is ‘fundamental’ to Europe achieving its climate targets

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A study commissioned by Ericsson has deemed 5G connectivity “fundamental” if Europe is going to achieve its climate targets.

As the world looks to the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, UK for some global leadership on the issue, the report highlights the importance of 5G in achieving carbon emission reduction targets across the wider continent.

The EU has set a target of reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent compared to 2017 levels by 2030. The target falls short of the 50 percent ambition set by the UNFCCC’s Race to Zero campaign and the Exponential Roadmap to limit global warming to 1.5C to avoid catastrophic damage, but still represents a step in the right direction.

Börje Ekholm, President and CEO of Ericsson, says:

“The EU and UK have set ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions that will require transformational shifts across society. This new analysis demonstrates that connectivity, and specifically 5G, is vital to achieving these decarbonisation targets.

It is difficult to see how these targets will be met unless the roll-out of digital infrastructure across Europe accelerates to match that of other leading countries and regions in the developed world.”

The study finds that implementing 5G across four carbon-intensive sectors (power, transport, manufacturing and buildings) could save 55-170 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) emissions per year. To put that in perspective, the same savings would require the removal of over 35 million petrol cars.

SectorExample of a sector-specific carbon abatement solutionEstimated carbon abatement by 2030
PowerSensor-driven improvements in renewable energy generation and deploymentUp to 75MtCO2e
TransportImproved truck utilisationUp to 55MtCO2e
ManufacturingSensor-driven efficiency improvements in factoriesUp to 35MtCO2e
BuildingFlexible and remote working enabled by 5G connectivityUp to 5MtCO2e

As a business, Ericsson is playing its part. In 2019, the vendor set a target that carbon emissions from its fleet vehicles and facilities will be net-zero by 2030.

In Lewisville, Texas, Ericsson has built a 5G Smart Factory designed end-to-end with environmental sustainability in mind. Compared to similar buildings, the factory uses 24 percent less energy, 75 percent less indoor water usage, and contributes 97 percent less operational carbon emissions.

“We will continue to invest heavily, not just for our customers through energy-efficiency products and solutions, but in our own operations, just as we have done at our 5G Smart Factory in the US,” adds Ekholm. “It is a great example of the emission saving results that can be achieved through implementing 5G in manufacturing.”

Ericsson’s report suggests that at least 40 percent of the EU’s carbon reduction solutions will rely on fixed-line and mobile connectivity.

“At present, with 5G roll-out, Europe is strolling towards a more digital, low-carbon future, while other regions are sprinting in the same direction,” comments Ekholm.

“Policymakers and regulators have a major role to play here by realising the competitive economic, social, and sustainable potential of 5G and working speedily together to clear practical, regulatory and financial obstacles so that people, businesses, industries, and societies right across Europe can enjoy the benefits.”

North America and North-East Asia are set to be on track to be able to realise the full benefits of 5G, with estimated population coverage of 97 percent by 2027. It’s a stark contrast to Europe, where just 80 percent of the population are expected to be served with 5G connectivity over the same timeframe.

2027 is just three years before global emissions will need to have been cut by 50 percent to limit global warming to 1.5C. If 5G is as fundamental to achieving those targets as the report suggests, Europe needs to ramp up its rollout.

A full copy of the report can be found here.

(Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash)

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