Indian telecom major Bharti Airtel’s lack of leadership exposed

Softbank, Alcatel Lucent and Vodafone score high in global climate leadership

Press release - February 28, 2012
New Delhi/Bangalore, Feb 28th, 2012: With the Mobile World Congress 2012 underway at Barcelona where top telecom corporate leaders from emerging markets are addressing a tech gathering, Greenpeace today released the briefing paper on International Green Telecom Leadership (1). This briefing showcases world’s eight top telecom companies’ leadership in mitigating own carbon emission and advocating clean energy policies. The briefing paper includes assessment of Alcatel Lucent, AT&T, Bharti Airtel, Ericsson, NTT, Softbank, Telefonica and Vodafone on two criteria- Energy Impact and Energy Advocacy.

Softbank (35 /60) scores highest for its strong clean energy advocacy in Japan, post-Fukushima nuclear disaster. Followed by Alcaten-lucent (25/60) and Vodafone (24/60). Indian telecom gaint Bharti Airtel (6/60) stays at the seventh spot followed by NTT (0) at bottom.

“Bharti Airtel sets the trend when it comes to market innovation but sadly it fails to take a leadership role when it comes to wise energy choices” said Greenpeace Climate & Energy Campaigner Mrinmoy Chattarraj from India. “It is not a question of technical feasibility or economic viability. It is question of corporate leadership in driving clean and sustainable business future”

Alcatel-lucent scores top points for its emission reduction plan and for setting ambitious reduction target of 50 % by the year 2020. Vodafone recently set an energy intensity target of 20% reduction in CO2 per network node from 2010/11 baseline by 2015 in emerging markets like India and South Africa (2).

However, the world’s fifth largest telecom operator and Indian market leader, Bharti-Airtel scores zero for failing to disclose its carbon emissions publicly. Though, the company has some minimal renewable energy use and energy efficiency measures, it did not set any public target for emissions reduction or declare a roadmap to shift away from heavy dependency on diesel to run its network towers. Currently, only 2 % of Bharti Airtel’s subsidiary Bharti Infratel’s network towers are running on renewable energy.

Post-Fukushima disaster, leading Japanese telecom brand Softbank stepped forward to challenge the Government’s nuclear energy programme and called for a transition away from nuclear power and put the country on an aggressive renewable energy path. On the other side, Bharti Airtel despite its strong influential position chose not to participate in the Green Telecommunication consultation process initiated by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India where all the other major telecom operators strongly opined in favor clean energy transition.

“There is a real opportunity for Bharti Airtel to lead by example in the changing climate by extending its strong corporate leadership to clean energy growth and show to the world that businesses can prosper, powered by clean energy.” said Greenpeace Climate Campaigner Casey Harrell.

At a time when Bharti Airtel’s Chairman Mr. Sunil Mittal is addressing the Mobile World Congress 2012, Greenpeace reminds him of his commitment being a market leader in critical times of runaway Climate Change, and the significant influence he has in creating a massive shift toward clean energy pathway.  Bharti Airtel can do this by publicly disclosing   carbon emissions of its entire global business operations and commit to shifting 50% sourcing of its energy requirements towards renewable energy sources, along with a set timeline to phase out diesel use in its business operation by 2015.

Notes to the editor:

1.     Greenpeace Telecom leadership Briefing paper

2.     Greenpeace Cool IT Leaderboard

3.     Greenpeace dirty Talking report


In India:

Mrinmoy Chattaraj, Campaigner, Greenpeace India, +91 990 220 1201,

Shashwat Raj, Media Officer, Greenpeace India, +91 968 686 1974,

In San Francisco:

Casey Harrell, Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace US, +1 415 307 3382,