Our climate change commitment
As a founding member of the Climate Leaders Coalition (CLC) Spark is committed to business leadership and collective action when it comes to addressing climate change.
In 2016 we set a target to reduce our emissions by 25% by 2025 against FY16 baseline. This is a credible and ambitious target. However, we recognise that it is not aligned with the latest science-based targets to contribute to limiting warming to 1.5 degrees.
As signatories of the 2019 CLC Pledge we are committed to set a target grounded in science that will deliver substantial emissions reductions to contribute to New Zealand being carbon neutral by 2050.
We remain committed to our current target. By setting a new target, and creating a pathway towards it, we will also accelerate our progress towards our 2025 reduction target, which will require significant work to achieve.
Our greenhouse gas emissions FY20
The scope of our environmental reporting includes Spark and its subsidiaries
 We have applied higher default refrigerant leakage estimates this year and restated Scope 1 refrigerant emissions for prior years following the same methodology
 This year we have applied significantly lower emission factors for New Zealand domestic air travel, based on new Government guidance following a 2016 Ministry of Transport study of aviation fuel consumption in New Zealand
 Adjusted from previously reported figure to include offsetting
Reducing our network emissions
Our main source of emissions is our use of electricity. We consume the most electricity in powering our networks and technology, including data centres and switches. Traffic over our networks increases significantly each year. To keep up with demand we have been investing in expanding coverage and increasing capacity in our core networks, including adding 150 new mobile sites over the past two years. It’s important that we meet our customers’ needs for digital connectivity. However, we recognise that we must invest and expand our network in a way that also reduces its footprint.
One way to reduce electricity consumption is to migrate to more efficient systems. Many Kiwis have already made the switch to get their landline and broadband delivered over newer technologies like fibre or wireless broadband, or have simply dropped their landline completely in favour of using their mobile. However, in many areas of New Zealand our landline voice calling is still running on the legacy public switched telephone network (PSTN) that is nearing the end of its life.
Since 2017 more than half a million Kiwis have moved over to the newer Converged Communications Network (CCN). The CCN is a more resilient and fully digital technology that handles all the different services our customers will expect and demand – fixed, mobile, video, collaboration, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and future services like Voice over WiFi.
For most customers the change will be a very simple process. We will support customers to make an informed choice about what service they would like to move to, and we have put in place a team of support people who can find solutions for those with more complex needs.
At the end of FY20 232 PSTN switches had been retired across New Zealand, which accounts for 33% of PSTN switches. Decommissioning the PSTN switches results in significant reduction in electricity usage.
We save around 60,000kWh each year in a typical urban PSTN exchange building or as much as 1 GWh each year in our largest exchanges, around 16 times more. This year we’ve achieved further annual savings of around 3 GWh through these energy efficiency improvements, totalling 3% in the past two years.
Spark has a core fleet of around 240 vehicles operating across New Zealand, and a further 214 vehicles assigned to subsidiaries and business partners. Our fleet emissions are around 6% of our total emissions. This means we have an important opportunity to make meaningful reductions in emissions by changing the composition of our fleet and our usage patterns.
We have a long-term focus on increasing fleet efficiency. We introduced 47 hybrid vehicles into our fleet in 2015, and in 2016 we made a commitment to convert 30% of our core fleet to PHEV (Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles) or fully electric vehicles. We achieved this target in FY20, having replaced 86 vehicles with PHEVs, representing 32% of our core fleet.
The majority of these vehicles were Mini Countrymen PHEVs. When compared to pure EVs, PHEVs are higher-emitting. However, they are the most practical solution for Spark currently because many of our sales and service staff using the vehicles are required to travel large distances in areas where charging infrastructure is not yet fully available.
At the end of FY20 19% of our broader fleet was PHEV or EV. Our long-term target is 30%.
Spark aims to reduce the impact of unwanted mobile phones by encouraging customers and employees to recycle handsets. As a member of the Telecommunications Forum’s RE:MOBILE product stewardship scheme, Spark supplies recycling bins in all retail stores and in many office buildings around the country. In FY20, 24,900 mobile phones were recycled through the RE:MOBILE programme. Spark’s recycling stations accept mobile phones, chargers, home phones, modems and tablets.
RE:MOBILE recycles mobiles through appropriate channels, resulting in tonnes of potentially harmful substances being diverted from landfills. Once collected, working devices are on-sold to emerging markets, with a percentage of the profits going to the environmental charity Sustainable Coastlines.