It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas (i.e. hot) in Australia. It's also really close to the end of the year – and what a year! In the last 12 months of the newsletter, we've written about:
- How exposed the game industry is to dodgy carbon credits
- What I learned about low-carbon travel (it needs to be way easier!)
- What the footprint of AfterClimate looked like in 2022 (and how to measure at-home device energy & emissions)
- How Epic & Fortnite built themselves a windfarm worth of energy savings
- Measured the energy impact of different graphics settings in The Witcher 3 and Destiny 2
- What I learned about repair by upgrading my iMac
We also put out some major new research like:
- What an ecolabelling scheme for games might look like, and
- Our report on the climate impact of developing Die Gute Fabrik's wonderful Saltsea Chronicles
We also returned to the task of (re)calculating the total footprint of the global games industry – which we still haven't finished, though it's a priority in the new year. So far we have managed:
- New, revised annual footprint of developing games, and settled on a range (up to 60M tCO2e) that ended up being pretty consistent with the totals from the Net Zero Snapshot later in the year (14M tCO2e – just from the biggest 30-odd games businesses)
- Estimated how many plastic discs the games industry has produced (a 9km high stack so far) plus what sort of GHG footprint we can expect from distribution (and why it's so hard to make an estimate)
- And used some new data to calculate end-user emissions from Xbox Gamepass players, and some more back-of-the-envelope figures for global electricity use by gamers
We also did some more fun stuff like reviews of:
- Paolo Pedercnini's Green New Deal Simulator (which rules)
- The excellent film How To Blow Up A Pipeline
- And the best of Corporate ESG Art from the year that was (where else can you get content like this? No where!)
All this plus links roundups to the latest developments in games & sustianability. No wonder I'm exhausted. Thanks for sticking around and reading GTG, and if you've just joined recently – take a look back at some of what you may have missed.
And of course, don't forget about our Games Industry Sustainability Benchmark report – which is just jam packed with all the best insights and analysis of the games industry's leading sustainabiltiy initiatives and what's being delivered.
Is it the perfect last-minute present for the climate-minded business or corporation in your life? We think so!
Let's check out the sustainability and climate news for (possibly) the last time this year.
As we enter the third month of obliteration for the people of Gaza, COP28 saw a public call for a ceasefire now from the People's Plenary – this is climate justice, with the emphasis on the justice.
The rest of the news from COP28 seems... perhaps encouraging? I've not seen the details yet but there's no shortage of positive coverage of the final text with its agreement on a transition away from Fossil Fuels. Compare/contrast the two following pieces in the Guardian for e.g. this early congratulatory piece, hailing the result:
vs. the decidedly less upbeat take on the watered-down language of "transition away" rather than "phase out", just two days later.
My Hot Take is that we probably spend too much time focusing on what the elite-driven COP process comes up with in words and documents. Decarbonisation will take a boots-on-the-ground organising effort, greater democratic decision-making, and more local input. The top-down approach may appear to be how much of the world currently works but is itself a reflection of the reality "on the ground" created by people and political movements. People power is what delivers.
Hank Hill on Carbon Credits
This episode aired in 2008! It is a shocking indictment that so little has shifted in the fifteen years since.
Epic wins its case against Google's Play store
Pretty major development – I'm greatly in favour of more competition in technology platforms, so this seems... possibly positive.
The impact on internet traffic from Fortnite updates – incredible scale
All the more reason to ask for – and expect – disclosures from Epic next year, hey? If your impact is a measurable shift in digital traffic around the world... the world is going to want to know what you're doing about that.
Amazon’s selective reporting (esp. in Scope 3) is failing the planet
But with Amazon not counting the sale of 99 percent of products sold and distributed directly by Amazon or by third-party sellers, most of the emissions the corporation is responsible for will remain unreported. Rather than leading on decarbonization, Amazon is creating a dynamic that threatens to drive down the environmental reporting and standards of its competitors.
Attributional vs Consequential CO2 analysis
Really, really detailed discussion of CO2 measuring/reduction strategies for IT projects (with some overlap with games). Adrian Cockcroft is increasingly a must-read for thinking about IT/software GHG impacts.
MIT Technology review reports on a study of power use from generative AI tasks:
Their work, which is yet to be peer reviewed, shows that while training massive AI models is incredibly energy intensive, it’s only one part of the puzzle. Most of their carbon footprint comes from their actual use.
Interactive pathways to 1.5C
Discourses of delay
An older one (from 2020) but still sadly relevant.
Bitcoin facing new disclosure rules in the EU
Seriously cool graphics showing data & energy intensity of loading a webpage
WeTransfer has a new digital ad methodology
That's it! See ya next time.