Vodafone UK urged the government to prioritise a speedy adoption of digital technology, with a specific focus on 5G and IoT to meet an ambitious target of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

In a report commissioned in association with consultancy WPI Economics, the operator stated digitalisation in manufacturing, transport and agriculture would result in an annual reduction of 4 per cent of UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Vodafone chief network officer Andrea Dona highlighted the three sectors as holding the biggest opportunities for reducing emissions in the next decade.

The transport sector was tipped to benefit the most from technology integration, with the possibility to cut for 9.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, for example using telematics to shorten delivery routes and reduce fuel consumption.

Smart sensors to monitor resources in agriculture could help cut 4.8 million tonnes, the companies estimated.

Using AI, machine learning and smart building products could save up to 3.3 million tonnes in manufacturing, as production lines would become more efficient and energy consumption would go down.

Call to action
Vodafone urged the government to incentivise adoption of IoT and 5G in key industries, including to make public funding of £500 million available for regional innovation centres which work on applying the technologies.

The operator also appealed for broader programmes to strengthen the digital skills of businesses and local authorities, and to implement regulation covering the security and data standards of IoT devices.

Vodafone aims to eliminate all carbon emissions from its operations in the UK by 2027, while its parent group aims to hit the goal by 2040.