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Climate change describes a change in conditions — such as temperature and rainfall — in a region over a long period of time. Global climate change refers to the long-term changes over the entire Earth. These include warming temperatures and changes in precipitation, as well as the effects of global warming.
The Earth’s climate has constantly been changing — long before humans appeared. However, scientists have observed unusual changes recently. For example, the Earth’s average temperature has been increasing much more rapidly than they would expect over the past 150 years.
In fact, the last five years, in particular, were the warmest years recorded in history.
What causes Climate Change?
Many factors contribute to the Earth’s climate. However, scientists agree that Earth has been getting warmer in the past 50 to 100 years due to human activities. Certain gases in the Earth’s atmosphere block heat from escaping. This is called the greenhouse effect. These gases keep the Earth warm like the glass in a greenhouse keeps plants warm.
Human activities — such as burning fuel to power factories, businesses, cars and buses — are changing the natural greenhouse. These changes cause the atmosphere to trap more heat than it used to, leading to a warmer Earth.
When human activities create greenhouse gases, the earth warms. This matters because oceans, land, air, plants, animals and energy from the Sun all have an effect on one another. The combined effects of all these things give us our global climate. In other words, Earth’s climate functions like one big, connected system.
What are the effects of climate change?
Climate change destabilises the Earth’s temperature balance and has far-reaching effects on human beings and the environment.
The direct consequences of climate change include:
- rising maximum temperatures
- rising minimum temperatures
- rising sea levels
- higher ocean temperatures
- an increase in heavy precipitation (heavy rain and hail)
- shrinking glaciers
- thawing permafrost
The indirect consequences of climate change, which directly affect our environment, and us humans include:
- an increase in hunger and water crises, especially in developing countries
- health risks through rising air temperatures and heatwaves
- economic implications of dealing with secondary damage related to climate change
- increasing spread of pests and pathogens
- loss of biodiversity due to limited adaptability and adaptability speed of flora and fauna
- ocean acidification due to increased HCO3 concentrations in the water as a consequence of increased CO₂ concentrations
- the need for adaptation in all areas (e.g. agriculture, forestry, energy, infrastructure, tourism, etc.)
As the climate changes, it is the people who are poor and vulnerable who will be the hardest hit. Climate change worsens existing vulnerabilities and adds to the pressures on the environment and natural resources on which we rely. Climate change could increase the prevalence and distribution of vector-borne diseases such as malaria and water-borne diseases such as cholera and dysentery. Such things mean that people living with pre-existing illnesses would experience increased risks
Vodacom’s position on Climate Change
Vodacom connects millions of people and machines and transmits vast amounts of data, all of which requires significant amounts of energy. The ICT industry is already a significant contributor to global emissions: by 2030 we will account for nearly 2% of total global emissions – comparable to the aviation industry. As a responsible corporate, we promote the phasing out of fossil fuel usage.
Vodacom operates in countries that are particularly environmentally vulnerable and susceptible to pollution, droughts, floods and severe weather events. As we aspire to be a purpose-led organisation, we must remain mindful of our impact on the planet and strive to improve the sustainability of our business within the communities we operate in.
Every little action to reduce energy usage will help us achieve our goal to halve our impact on the environment by 2025 and contribute to create a more sustainable future for all. This is why we have committed to UN SDG 13: Climate Action and continue to ramp up efforts to invest in climate-smart ways of doing business, connecting people, transforming lives and livelihoods whilst protecting the planet at the same time.
What has Vodacom done to reduce its carbon emissions?
Vodacom’s biggest source of carbon emissions is from our electricity usage. Due to this reliance on electricity from the grid to keep operations running, Vodacom invests substantially in energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives and programmes to reduce our energy usage and the corresponding impact on climate change. A list of these are included below:
- Swapping out old, inefficient equipment with newer, more energy-efficient ones
- Free cooling which reduces the need for air conditioning
- Installed IoT capability to ensure remote monitoring of more than 3 000 base station sites to ensure optimal use of energy
- Solar-powered buildings including our Innovation Centre in Midrand, Green Star rated building in Century City and solar-powered head office in Lesotho
- 950 solar-powered sites within the Group
- Solar-powered base station controller in Randburg
- Century City building accredited with a five-star Existing Building Performance certification by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).
- Building refurbishments, lighting retrofits, property rationalisation, consolidation, and smart building technologies.
- Optimisation of Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning (HVAC) systems
- Procurement of renewable energy from Independent Power Producers
- Adopting the principles of the waste hierarchy into business practices i.e. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle where disposal as landfill is the last option.