COP26: How 5G can help to achieve net zero targets

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Ahead of the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, a report commissioned by Mobile UK highlights the role 5G will play in achieving net zero targets.

Mobile UK is the trade association of the UK’s mobile network operators: EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone. The report, 5G’s Crucial Role in the Race to Combat Climate Change: How 5G will help lay the path to net zero, examines how the operators can play their part in tackling one of the biggest threats to our health, environment, and livelihoods.

Gareth Elliott, Head of Policy and Communications at Mobile UK, said:

“Our report highlights the crucial role that 5G and wider mobile connectivity will have in assisting our efforts to mitigate climate change.

What is important is that governments recognise this early and work with industry to enable the rapid deployment of 5G and mobile networks. By doing so, we will be in a stronger position to realise our goals more quickly.”

The UK Government’s target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 78 percent by 2035 and reach net zero by 2050.

Critics say it’s not ambitious enough, while supporters believe it will enable a phased transition that minimises disruption and ensures public support. Whatever your personal view, using technology to deliver efficiency improvements will be critical.

Here are some of the key findings from the report:

  • Mobile technologies could slash food waste by 50 percent before the end of the decade
  • 5G technologies when used in manufacturing could reduce annual carbon emissions by 2.6 MtCO2e by 2025
  • When deployed in the transport sector, 5G could reduce annual emissions by 6.6-9.3 MtCO2e. Part of this can be achieved through dynamic intersections that could streamline traffic and reduce energy consumption by 13-44 percent
  • In agriculture, the use of 5G connected drones and sensors could reduce annual emissions by 1 MtCO2e

Mobile UK is involved with several trials alongside partners including Digital Catapult, O2, Transport for West Midlands, Wayra, and others.

Trials have included using 5G connectivity to monitor wind turbines to maximise energy production; improving recycling by optimising waste flows; and helping residents to reduce their energy consumption with real-time data.

A full copy of the report can be found here (PDF)

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