Making the Case for Companies Like Ours To Set Bold Sustainability Goals Like Net-Zero by 2040
By Mike Sievert, CEO of T-Mobile
T-Mobile’s mission is to be the best in the world at connecting customers to their world. That’s not just a phrase, it’s also a pretty tall order — and one that we take seriously. It comes to life every day through our efforts to deliver exceptional services at a great value, from a great team. Customers deeply value the connectivity our industry provides, and doing it well means we have to operate just about everywhere. That leaves the potential for a big environmental footprint in our wake.
And increasingly, our customers are asking what we are doing about that. I love this. Broader research aligns with what we’re hearing from our customers and employees. In a 2022 global survey from IBM, 51% of respondents said environmental sustainability is more important to them now than it was the year before. And a 2022 Yale survey found that 51% of U.S. business students would even take lower pay to work for a company with better environmental practices — a signal of the topic's importance. And, of course, scientists have also made it clear that we must implement bold measures now to ensure a sustainable future for ourselves and generations to come.
For these reasons — and because it’s simply the right thing to do — T-Mobile has integrated sustainability into how we operate, achieving a lot of “firsts” along the way. We’re proud that we were the first U.S. wireless provider (in 2018) to pledge to source 100% of our total electricity usage with renewable energy, then being the first to do just that in 2021. And of being first in U.S. wireless to set science-based carbon reduction goals and then reach them in 2021, four years ahead of our 2025 target.
Now, we have taken another big step forward. Just recently, T-Mobile announced that we are the first in U.S. wireless to set an ambitious goal to achieve net-zero emissions across our ENTIRE carbon footprint by 2040, in addition to being the first in U.S. wireless to set a net-zero target that’s validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). This means we’ve committed to ensuring the amount of greenhouse gas emissions we add to the atmosphere can be no more than the amount taken away. This is no small task, but we’re up for the challenge!
While we love a good Un-carrier first, this is a case where we don’t want to be standing alone. We are proud to be carving out our path toward real progress, but we should be one of many doing the very same thing when it comes to sustainability. And it’s got to be more than talk. Companies like ours need to lead by example with real action. Novelist Ken Kesey said, “You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” That’s exactly what we’re doing.
A great example of this is The Climate Pledge, which T-Mobile recently signed. This is an innovative commitment Amazon co-founded to accelerate responsible climate action across all industries. It aligns T-Mobile with nearly 400 like-minded companies and organizations, such as Microsoft, Alaska Airlines, IBM, and Procter & Gamble, all of which believe investing in sustainability is key to long-term success and have vowed to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. A group of leaders that understands the power of coming together — leading by going to that place and making the case.
By the way, we all also recognize that while this is good for the planet, it’s also good business. Independent nonprofit JUST Capital found that companies that land on its annual list of America's Most JUST Companies on average had a higher return on equity and higher profit margins than those that didn’t. Whether this is causal or not, it points to the responsibility we have as successful organizations in our society. It’s worth noting that T-Mobile was recently listed as #20 on the 2023 Most Just Companies list and earned a #1 ranking in our industry for environmental impact. How these efforts correlate with performance further underscores how customers and employees perceive them as positive and meaningful.
T-Mobile is taking this challenge straight on. We’ve made the decision as a company to move beyond managing risks and begin to take intentional measures — bigger than ever before — that will ensure a sustainable future for us all. I’d like to see even more businesses like ours do the same. There is strength in numbers, and more important, there are common practices that we could jointly develop and share. I’m pleased to see so many organizations begin to move past the talk, and into the doing. I hope others will join in so we can make meaningful progress together.