Climate Action

Steve Martineau on how emerging technologies will be key to reach net zero in the mobile sector

Ahead of the Sustainable Innovation Forum 2019 taking place in Madrid, Spain on the 10-11th December, we caught up with Steve Martineau, Chief of Staff at GSMA, to discuss how emerging technologies will be key to reach net zero in the mobile sector.

  • 06 December 2019
  • Rachel Cooper

Ahead of the Sustainable Innovation Forum 2019 taking place in Madrid, Spain on the 10-11th December, we caught up with Steve Martineau, Chief of Staff at GSMA, to discuss how emerging technologies will be key to reach net zero in the mobile sector.


Q. It’s 2050 and zero-carbon targets have been met globally, how have mobile network operators most significantly contributed to this reality? How has their role transformed to exist in this new reality?


By 2050 mobile operators will have helped the economy decarbonise to Net Zero through widespread deployment of smart connected technologies that revolutionise efficiency. People will be using ergonomic connected technology that is likely wearable and with incredible computing capabilities. Mobile operators will have switched to 100% renewable electricity even in remote locations with significant developments in energy generation and storage technology. The supply chains of wearable connected technology will be fully circular, with all components and materials capable of being reused, repurposed or recycled.


Q. What emerging and disruptive technologies will have the greatest impact as solutions for climate change? What collaboration, policy and regulatory support are needed to ensure that the disruption strengthens existing networks and doesn’t result in unintended consequences that lessen progress towards a smart, integrated and low-carbon future?


I see the combination of new digital and connected technologies, combined with the increasing power of artificial intelligence, and then directed towards climate action as a powerful disruptor in the marketplace. We are only seeing the beginning of likely innovation as every sector becomes more focused on reducing its carbon emissions. We have significant civil institutions in place whether government, private, and NGO, that are constantly evaluating different options and weighing the right direction. By listening to specialists and consulting broadly, the private and public sectors can work together to achieve Net Zero.


Q. Please can you tell us about the GSMA-Led Climate Initiative to Develop a Decarbonisation Pathway for the Mobile Sector. What will be the key factors to ensuring it is as impactful as possible?


The GSMA has been working with GeSI and the ITU, to develop a decarbonisation pathway for the mobile industry, aligned with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).  We are in the process of the ITU consultation and will submit for approval from SBTi in January.  The pathway is aligned to the 1.5C of global warming – the most ambitious target of the Paris Climate Agreement. We are planning to launch the pathway at our flagship conference, MWC Barcelona, in February. We will look to work closely with our members and suppliers on target setting and renewable electricity next year.


Q. How can mobile operators and their use of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) contribute to the establishment of smart, sustainable cities? 


Smart sustainable cities will be vital if we are to achieve the carbon reduction goals necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change. Mobile technology will create the networks for data to pass across, and will also provide the intelligence to analyse that data and make cities run efficiently. Public-private partnerships between cities and operators can help accelerate the development of smarter, more sustainable cities that improve the lives of residents whilst ensuring data privacy.


What is the importance of events such as the Sustainable Innovation Forum for organisations like GSMA?


Events like the Sustainable Innovation Forum are fantastic platforms to share best practice between industry sectors, help to educate on new and exciting innovation, create moments to network with new partners, and raise ambition for us to get to Net Zero.


GSMA is a Strategic Partner of the upcoming 10th annual Sustainable Innovation Forum taking place alongside COP25, 10-11 December in Madrid, Spain. To learn more about the agenda, the panels, the speakers and how to register, visit the event's official website here.