“We hope to play our part in creating a better future": BT CEO Ian Livingston presents Net Good plan in London

Clare Saxon Ghauri
Reading time: 3 minutes
19 June 2013

LONDON: BT’s Net Good framework was launched in London yesterday, where BT’s CEO Ian Livingston and other experts showcased the new carbon abatement methodology, which has the potential to jump start innovation across the private sector.

The Event was streamed live. Here is a summarized video:

For more videos of the event, please visit our Youtube channel here

Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group, opened the event at the packed RSA in London by framing the ‘essential’ need to measure impacts beyond companies’ own footprints in order to drive down global emissions. Mark praised BT’s Net Good framework’s ‘innovative approach’ and called for more companies to contribute to “enabling even more CO2 savings than they cause”.

Ian Livingston, CEO, BT, then presented the Net Good methodology, of helping customers reduce carbon emissions by at least three times the end-to-end carbon impact of BT’s business by 2020. He said that “doing good business’ and ‘being a good business’ are complementary elements: “You can become a good business by putting sustainability at the heart of what you do and being a responsible citizen in the areas you operate”.

Open source data

Ian Livingston stressed the role of customers for delivering Net Good results, as they are increasingly looking to do businesses with companies that ‘do the right thing’ and are a central aspect of the open-source nature of the Net Good framework. He concluded that while there is ‘no silver bullet’, he called Net Good an ‘ambitious goal that presents real opportunity’ for better business, ending on the inspiring: “We hope to play our part in creating a better future.”

Then Kevin Moss, Program Director Net Good, BT, took to the stage to explain the framework in more depth. He said Net Good will better measure green product portfolios to deliver profits and benefits: “For each of our products that help customers save carbon, we’ve calculated just how much.” He clarified the three routes that BT will go to grow from its current 1:1 to 3:1 by 2020, including upstream supply chains which represent 64% of BT’s end-to-end emissions. But Kevin iterated that BT can not do the work alone, and collaboration and open sourcing for data is integral to Net Good.

Calling for bold ambition across industries, Kevin said that while CO2 savings surpassing a business footprint is good, interventions must also “disrupt and drive a cleaner energy system”. He wrapped up by pointing to BT’s Better Future report and the company’s influential leadership, affirming: “By putting the stake in the ground, we hope others will do the same; try it, build on it… so the shift moves from doing less bad, to net good.”

Private sector innovation

Following the framework launch was a panel moderated by The Climate Group’s CEO, Mark Kenber, who asked guests to discuss the Net Good framework and its wider impacts. Tom Delay, Chief Executive, the Carbon Trust, said that global businesses must be sustainable to engender loyalty among future generations, as their surveys show that "consumers are more loyal to brands with environmental strategies”. While he said that to correlate financial and environmental performance is ‘unfair’, it is inherent in many industries. He said: “All sectors can do the Net Good calculation, but it is about understanding individual impacts of companies and consumption”. He concluded that BT’s Net Good is an ‘enormous opportunity’ for both the medium and long term, for companies that want to do business in a more transparent way.

Mike Berners-Lee of Small World Consulting also agreed that both trust and transparency are key to Net Good, and while the supply chain analysis that Net Good requires may put people off due to its complexity, it is a practical process that gives ‘intelligent steer’ to businesses. 

Paul Crewe, Head of Sustainability, Engineering, Energy & Environment, Sainsbury’s, praised Net Good for its “bold and vitally important first step into the unknown”. He said Sainsbury’s operates in a competitive market yet still aims for the Net Good framework, by running ambitious pilots and quickly rolling-out successes. He said: “We’d rather shoot for the stars and land on the moon than not shoot at all”, and that while Sainsbury’s is competitive, “collaboration and sharing are essential”.

BT’s Kevin Moss who was also on the panel, further highlighted BT’s efforts in carbon abatement, including the company’s aim to make 15% of all procurement decisions weighted towards carbon and energy saving. He said much of the program's progress is driven by customers asking about sustainability more, as well as working in an increasingly resource-constrained ‘new world’, in which Net Good will help BT thrive. Kevin added that while BT is fortunate by being in the ICT sector where there are straight-forward metrics on both sides as well as big opportunities in smart cities, homes, energy and transport, he added that real impact was in inspiring others. He said: “we do not expect to make a profit from the Net Good launch, but it will help us with innovation and opportunity - and we want our customers and suppliers to play a part”.

The event ended with a series of break-out sessions lead by representatives from the Carbon Trust, The Climate Group and BT, where engaged stakeholders shared ideas on achieving simple metrics and driving standards that will feed into the open-source nature of Net Good. Niall Dunne, Chief Sustainability Officer, BT, concluded with: “Disruptive and simple is good. Let’s get diverse: this is about systematic transformation. Breaking down barriers and collaborating to pull in the same direction: towards net good.”

Photos from the BT Net Good launch


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