how much of an impact does my phone have on climate change?

Aug 6, 2020

How much of an impact is your mobile phone having on climate change? The answer might surprise you.

The UK’s mobile industry has committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement, but could this be a much bigger challenge than we realise?

The communications industry could use 20% of the world’s electricity and create up to 5.5% of the world’s carbon emissions by 2025 largely due to storing and transmitting data from billions of smartphones, tablets and a rapidly increasing number of other connected devices. All this storage has to happen somewhere, and it typically happens in huge data centres which need to be kept cool at all times. It’s this huge amount of cooling that actually uses so much energy.

In 2018 there were an estimated 22 billion connected devices around the globe and this is set to increase to a staggering 38.6 billion devices by 2025 and as much as 50 billion by 2030. The more devices there are, the more storage and data we need. The more storage and data we need, the more energy gets used. There have been some interesting trials done recently putting data centres underneath the arctic to keep them naturally cool, but it’s a tiny fraction of the overall number of data centres.

The number of mobile users is also increasing steadily. By 2025 we’re expected to reach 5.9 billion global mobile users and with 5G being rolled out, data usage is expected to soar.

There is no doubt that with all this growth, it’s going to become more challenging to meet our targets on climate change.

We haven’t even mentioned the impact of manufacturing (and discarding) billions of handsets each year. Apple recently announced their commitment to become fully carbon neutral by 2030 which is a big step in the right direction, but the question remains as to whether the steps being taken by the industry as a whole will be quick enough.

At Honest Mobile we recognise that the climate crisis is no longer a potential threat. It is reality. We believe that protecting our planet should be part of the DNA of every business. 

That’s why we decided to offer carbon-neutral calls, message and data and automatically plant trees for all our customers to help them offset their personal carbon footprint and make sure our customers are minimising their impact from using our network. [See our update at the end of this post for some exciting news on this!]

It’s also why we’re proud to be a pending B Corp. The latest study from B Lab reveals that 76% of the UK public think business has a responsibility to protect the natural environment, and 72% of the UK public think business should have a legal responsibility to the planet and people. That is exactly what it means to be a B Corp – we use business as a force for good and have a legal responsibility to our planet. 

Help us lead the way in transforming the mobile industry for the good of our planet and join Honest Mobile today, safe in the knowledge that we’ll be offsetting all your network use today.

UPDATE | 12 August 2020

We’re proud to announce that we have received our Carbon Neutral Company status. This has been part of our mission from day one and we’re excited to be the first mobile network in the UK to offer consumers a completely carbon neutral alternative. 

At Honest Mobile we aimed to build sustainability into the very foundations of our business. We started by offering carbon neutral calls, messages and data but now we offset emissions in line with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol which includes the charging and manufacture of our customers’ phones.

To find out more, please check out our most recent blog post: Honest Mobile becomes the UK’s first Carbon Neutral Mobile Network