Business Spotlight: AT&T Connects Innovative Past with Clear Future

Global communications today are a given—but we forget how recent it was that remote communication changed society forever.

Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876. A few years later, he founded a company called American Telephone and Telegraph, which eventually became known as simply AT&T, and hastened the modern era of communication.

Now AT&T once again has an eye towards the future. The company has recognized the need to reduce carbon emissions, and they are working to assess and counteract the impact climate change will have on their operations over the next 30 years.

Earlier this year, AT&T announced they are working with U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory to develop a climate modeling tool that can visualize community-level climate impacts in the coming decades.

AT&T is using their “Climate Change Analysis Tool” to help with risk assessment when planning construction projects, like new cell towers. With the climate modeling tool, they can predict climate impacts to the proposed areas of construction to protect the investment from being destroyed by future natural disasters.

“Extreme weather and climate-related events disrupt businesses, public services and communities,” said Scott Mair, president, AT&T Operations. “Together with Argonne National Laboratory, we’re using industry-leading science and technology to assess the risks of a changing climate to our business, so we can make data-driven decisions to better serve our customers and improve our corporate resilience.”

AT&T took their work a step further by announcing a new initiative that will open up their data analysis tool for others to use. The Climate Resiliency Community Challenge is a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and will “help local communities better predict, prepare for and adapt to the changing climate.”

The Challenge is targeted at the Southeast Region of the country. One team from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina will be selected for the challenge. Using the climate data from Argonne National Laboratory, the teams will be tasked with using the data to look at upcoming regional challenges, such as public health, infrastructure, emergency management, and overall community resilience.

AT&T will contribute up to $50,000 in funding to support the team’s research. Private and public colleges and universities are invited to submit an application to participate in the program through September 30, 2019.

As part of the Climate Resiliency Community Challenge, AT&T also released the results of a recent survey on business leaders views on climate change from across the nation. AT&T commissioned the survey, which was conducted by the Morning Consult.

The survey found that 59 percent of businesses see climate change as a priority, and the same 59 percent consider their companies to be “climate resilient.” However, only 29 percent have actually looked at the climate-based risks that could affect their business. And only 38 percent said that they had a plan to respond if something happens.

“Climate change impacts everyone – financially and physically – even if we might not recognize it in our daily lives,” said Charlene Lake, senior vice president-Corporate Social Responsibility and chief sustainability officer at AT&T. “It’s important we know the risks and learn how to adapt. At AT&T, we’re using the best available science and technology to visualize the impacts of climate change on our business.”

AT&T creates the change they want to see in the business world. Find out about more of their environmental initiatives here. And check out our other business spotlights for more stories on business leaders doing their part for advancing clean energy technologies.

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