Bharti Airtel makes a move towards sustainability

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Feature story - January 18, 2013
Two years ago Greenpeace India and lakhs of mobile phone users like us started asking Bharti Airtel to switch-off diesel. The company has taken the first step by releasing its first-ever sustainability report.

Airtel ready to go sustainableAmong other things, the report gives a detailed overview of the companies approach, initiatives and future plans for social and environmental development including energy and climate change, waste management.

"We appreciate and congratulate Bharti Airtel for finally taking a positive step towards sustainability with the launch of this report and hope that this will be a continued initiative. Now that Bharti Airtel has taken leadership towards sustainability we expect other companies to follow suit. Greenpeace is willing to engage with other telecom companies to help them roll out their sustainability plans," said Mrinmoy Chattaraj, Campaigner, Greenpeace India.

Bharti Airtel's report was released on January 11, 2012, exactly a year from the introduction of the Green Telecom Directive, which asks telecom service providers to disclose carbon emissions and set plans to reduce them. The company disclosed its carbon emissions for year 2010-11 and year 2011-12 comprising both diesel consumption and grid based electricity. It also outlines measures to reduce its carbon emissions with the help of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.

After the release of its sustainability report, Bharti Airtel's to management met Greenpeace representatives to discuss ways of furthering the companies move to become more sustainable. The meeting ended with both sides agreeing on the following:

  • Announcement of time-bound emission reduction target and renewable energy target for 2020 by end of the financial year 2012.
  • Appointment of senior management functionary at Airtel to continue the dialogue with Greenpeace.
  • Airtel and Greenpeace to lobby and advocate for 20 % renewable energy generation target by 2020.

The Dirty Talking and Enable Clean Talking reports published by Greenpeace India spoke about the telecom sectors high diesel consumption and the way they could clean up their act, respectively. This became the basis of the Airtel Switch-off Diesel campaign.

Over 2,00,000 people signed the petitions asking Airtel CEO Sunil Bharti Mittal to go green. Greenpeace activists even unfurled banners at the company's office in Delhi reiterating the same demand. There was no response from the company then, but its recent move to go sustainable shows that the opinion of people matters and adds strength to the demand for change.


Story by: Swati Mehta