The Truth About Climate Change and 5G


Wireless plays a vital role in how we live, work, and play. But wireless isn’t just for remote work or telehealth. According to a new report from Accenture, with expanded use cases for 5G technology across industries, wireless will play an important role in reducing carbon emissions as well.

Consider your friend, let’s call him Joe. Joe lives in a rural house and drives to work in the city. He likes to eat fresh produce and order packages online. In one day of life for Joe, with 5G technology layered into his everyday routines, Joe can cut back on carbon emissions while at work, during his commute, in the energy used to produce the food he is eating, and in the manufacturing it took to create the product he ordered online. As the report states, “Across industries, 5G networks will enable more downstream use cases because they are able to support more devices, which will create a multiplier effect when the network is used at scale.” Let’s take a closer look:

Working, Living, and Health

Saving hours commuting by working remotely and leveraging telehealth appointments has obvious benefits. Perhaps not so obvious is that the expanded use of 5G technologies for working, living, and in the health sector can reduce carbon emissions, a projection of 81.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MMtCO2e) of potential abatement according to Accenture. 5G technology promises to reach many homes, including in rural areas, giving greater ability for many workers across the US to adopt or continue with remote work. The expanded use of telemedicine helps serve remote areas with increased speed and quality, but also has the added benefit of patients and medical professionals traveling less. Win-win.

Transportation and Cities

Smart transportation solutions to reduce carbon emissions can leverage 5G networks for vehicle-to-vehicle communication, pre-trip planning, and traffic signal communication. Not to mention the efficiencies that can come from public transportation, ride-sharing, and bike-sharing. In fact, “By 2025, it is estimated that the total carbon abatement potential of use cases in this industry can amount up to 86.5 MMtCO2e for the US, which is 26% of the overall total abatement made possible by 5G.”

Energy and Buildings

Energy savings can result in spending less dollars, but devices and sensors integrated into buildings could also help optimize the energy grid and improve demand. With the real-time data promised by 5G, driven by lower latency, device capacity and range, smart grids can also be optimized for predictive maintenance and fast fixes. This is more than a smart thermostat, but a sector-wide solution that “can enable 67.9 MMtCO2e emissions reduction,” by 2025, which is equivalent to the electricity needed to power 12.3 million homes in one year.


Smart agriculture doesn’t mean smarter livestock. Rather, by leveraging 5G enabled connected technologies, carbon-reducing efficiencies can be leveraged for precision farming, smart farm machinery, pesticide spraying via drone, and weed and crop monitoring, and these are just a few examples. According to the report, “5G for connected crop management can contribute up to 27.8 MMtCO2e in carbon abatement annually – the equivalent to removing emissions from burning 30.7 billion pounds of coal during that same timeframe.”


Inventory management, product inspection, process automation, and predictive maintenance can all be improved and help reduce emissions through the use of 5G technology in manufacturing. This could mean you get your package faster and that a food distribution center has less waste. Looking at inventory management alone, this could mean a reduction in, “carbon emissions by 67.4 MMtCO2e in the United States,” by 2025. This is equal to “156 million barrels of oil consumed or the carbon that is sequestered by 83 million acres of U.S forests in one year.”

Read the Report

5G networks are a game-changer for carbon emission reduction and that’s great news for your friend Joe—it’s great news for us too. It also means a total of 330.8 MMtCO2e of 5G-enabled carbon abatement by 2025—equal to taking nearly 72 million cars off the roads for one year. That’s something to feel good about, while also helping rethink sustainability in our community and economy.