By Charlene Lake, Senior Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility & Chief Sustainability Officer, AT&T
“Think Big” and “Make a Difference." These are not only two of AT&T’s corporate values. They are also key ideals that we in the private sector must follow to accelerate the low-carbon economy transition and address climate change.
As the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes clear, the shift to renewable energy sources will need to accelerate to meet global climate goals. To be precise, renewables will need to make up 70 to 85 percent of electricity generation by 2050 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
And of course, that has to be a collective goal. At AT&T, we’re playing a role in speeding up and scaling the renewable energy sector. Since making our first large-scale investment in 2018, we’ve quickly become one of the largest corporate purchasers of renewable energy in the U.S. To date, we have invested in up to 820 MW of wind energy capacity for the U.S. power grid. Thinking big makes a difference. That investment is enough clean energy to power approximately 372,000 homes a year and to avoid the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as taking over 530,000 cars off the road. And, we’ll soon be announcing additional investments as part of our company’s action on climate change.
But for AT&T, making a difference with renewables goes beyond the actual renewable investment. We want to make a difference for the people who bring clean power to the grid and their futures. Wind turbine technician is one of the fastest-growing occupations in America, and employment in the wind energy sector is expected to grow 108% by 2024. Building a pipeline of skilled talent to fill these jobs is critical to achieving and supporting a low-carbon economy—and to creating economic opportunity for communities around the country.
As part of AT&T Aspire, our $500 million commitment to education and skilling since 2008, we’ve created the AT&T Wind Energy Scholarship Fund. In collaboration with Texas State Technical College (TSTC) and Canadian Valley Technology Center (CV-Tech), we support students in Texas and Oklahoma who want to pursue careers as wind turbine technicians. These are well-paid, in-demand careers that empower people to take care of both their families and our planet. We’re also proud to support organizations like Homeboy Industries, which trains former gang members and previously incarcerated men and women for jobs as solar panel installers and for a better life.
Addressing climate change requires big thinking and big action to help make a difference. At AT&T, we’ve followed these ideals as we’ve created our environmental programs, whether it’s our renewable energy investments, our work to help build climate resiliency or our goal to enable carbon savings 10 times the footprint of our operations by 2025. Other major companies are embracing actions as well, and we look forward to watching more and more of Corporate America align to deliver significant impact on this journey of environmental stewardship.
As AT&T celebrates #AmericanWindWeek and prepares to convene with environmental leaders at Climate Week NYC 2019, we are reminded that collective action on these ideals is key to advancing global climate action and helping to ensure a better, more sustainable world for all.
Click here to watch AT&T's video on company's investments in wind energy and the people who bring clean power to the grid.
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