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Reflecting on two years as Australia’s first carbon neutral telco

Published on 21st Dec 2021

It’s been a long two years since Belong’s mobile and broadband services went carbon neutral.

Climate Active certified the carbon neutral status of our products and services in December 2019. Our operations are also carbon neutral as part of Telstra’s organisational certification.

Since then, a lot has changed – even if we’re just talking about climate action. A lot more companies are getting involved and doing the work they need to do to reduce their impact on the planet.

It feels like there’s real momentum to do the right thing by the planet. That makes it a great time to look at what we’ve learned in the past 24 months and what we need to do next.

First Nations First: the journey to carbon neutral

It all starts with the principles we set when we started moving towards certification. Chief among them is three words with a lot of meaning: First Nations First.​

​You can’t talk about the start of responsible climate action without talking about the 65,000 years’ worth of knowledge held by First Nations people. As custodians and caretakers of Country, First Nations people have always looked for innovative ways to live in harmony with the Land. Think of the Budj Bim eel traps and savanna-burning to keep deadly wildfires in check.​

​We want to emulate this approach. Cleaning up after ourselves and improving our natural environment in a responsible, renewable way is a key part of real climate action. First Nations people have been doing that for 65,000 years. We’re going to keep listening to and learning from them as we move forward.

If you’re going to do this, do it right

Second, we're here to do it right. We’re not interested in giving off a veneer of ‘carbon neutral’; we want to have a real impact with no corners cut. That's why Belong is Australia's first Climate Active certified carbon-neutral telecommunications provider.​

​It also meant that, before we invested in our offset projects two years ago, we whittled down thousands of projects to the portfolio we have today. We chose projects based on factors like developer track record, transparency of documentation and social and environmental impact. For example, we selected projects that don’t contribute to the extinction of fragile flora and fauna, helps the local economy in a responsible way, that kind of thing.​

​And we ended up with some pretty cool projects – from savanna burning in Queensland, to run-of-the-river hydroelectric in India.

A cost to business not to customers

Lastly, we felt that our customers shouldn’t have to pay extra to cover the costs of us doing business while doing the right thing by the planet. We didn’t (and still don’t!) believe in having customers pay to upgrade their plans to a carbon neutral one. All our products and plans are carbon neutral at no extra cost.​

Continuing the work

After two years since certification, it certainly feels good to have earned two Finder Green Awards recognising the work we’ve done to go carbon neutral (and how we’ve gone about it) and being perceived by Australians as leading telco in this space. ​

But we’re not done. The planet won’t wait for us to rest on our laurels. ​

There’s work being done across Belong for a big green 2022! Keep a watch out for news on how we’re reducing packaging waste, and encouraging device recycling and reuse.

Peng Lee, Strategy and Commercial Lead at Belong
Peng Lee has worked in telecommunications and strategy across Australia and the UK since 2005. Dylanologist. Velominatus.