BT launches initiatives to support green COVID-19 recovery

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BT has launched two new programmes to help drive the UK’s transition to net-zero carbon emissions and contribute to a green Covid-19 recovery.

Working with Silicon Valley accelerator and venture capital company Plug and Play, BT is looking for the latest technologies from UK-based tech scale-ups that could support BT and its public sector customers in the transition to net-zero.

The partnership marks Plug and Play’s entry to the UK market and will explore three areas. ‘Smart streets’ will focus on insights from environmental monitoring and traffic optimisation sensors which can be easily integrated into street furniture such as BT Street Hub units.

Smart buildings covers IoT-capable solutions supporting energy and water management in social housing and other public sector buildings.

Finally, BT wants to uncover ways 5G can be used to enable products and solutions that will reduce travel and support remote working. This includes using video and augmented or virtual reality to carry out remote repair and diagnostics by health and other public sector workers.

Climate emergency

BT plans to announce scale-ups chosen through the platform in autumn and they will have the opportunity to partner with BT and its customers. Partnerships will range from BT helping start-ups find a cheaper, faster initial route to market, through to new revenue-share models or even taking a stake in the business.

Philip Jansen, BT Group Chief Executive, said, “The economic setback and immense hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are severe and could be long-lasting. However, despite the temporary reprieve on carbon emissions and air quality in towns and cities during the lockdown, the global climate emergency hasn’t gone away.

“As we emerge from the crisis, the recovery presents a huge opportunity for governments, businesses and individuals to put action on climate at the heart of their efforts. We will be playing our part with a once-in-a-generation investment in the UK’s digital infrastructure: full-fibre broadband to 20 million premises, as well as our continued investment in 5G mobile.

"We will also be backing new green technologies through our Green Tech Innovation Platform. BT is stepping up on climate action and we want to encourage and help others to do the same.”

EV transition

BT has also launched The UK Electric Fleets Alliance with non-profit The Climate Group to support electrification, including of its own fleet. BT Group has the second-largest commercial fleet in the UK with almost 34,000 vehicles – just 23 of them are electric and BT has ordered 46 more. In its recent Digital Impact and Sustainability report, BT said it was committed to transitioning to EVs but that the shift is challenging.

In the run-up to the COP26 climate summit in 2021, the Alliance will help to develop policy measures that support corporate electric vehicle (EV) uptake, such as stimulating EV supply and investing in EV charging infrastructure.
BT has pledged to become a net-zero carbon emissions business by 2045. It said it reduced its carbon emissions by 18.6% in 2019/20, compared to the year before.