GTG Links 43 – Sega & Rovio ESG analysis, climate chaos & costs + internet cable repair guys

A futuristic wingsuit wearing soldier glides towards the camera, looking up at a tornado behind them
BF2042 is set in a world full of climate chaos, and yet war... war never changes

ESG season rolls on, with the trickle of new reporting coming down the pipe. But first, check out this cool new (academic) piece by Friend of the Newsletter Larry May and co-author Ben Hall:

Thinking ecologically with Battlefield 2042

We analyse a dataset of player-generated paratexts that were systematically gathered from three popular online communities associated with Battlefield 2042. Our analysis demonstrates the effect the game’s entanglement with contemporary climate anxieties has on its online communities and reveals the multiplicity of player encounters with different forms of ecological thought.
Game Studies - Thinking Ecologically with <em>Battlefield 2042</em>

Rovio's 2023 Sustainability Report

A couple of new details include that Rovio is currently looking at the feasibility of a net-zero target (great!), and we've got new figures for their 2023 annual footprint.

Check out the full report here [PDF].

Sega Sammy's annual ESG reporting

Rovio's new owners (Sega Sammy) have also released their ESG report and data (see table below) – but this was done back in November last year. We only just spotted it now, but here it is for anyone interested [PDF].

Just going off the data: Scope 1 emissions are up, Scope 2 are down (purchasing more renewables, I guess?), and Scope 3 are well up. This is partially (or maybe even mostly?) 2022 figures as the Japanese fiscal year ends in March, so these are 9 months of 2022 and the first quarter of 2023. The data here wouldn't include Rovio then (which would push these numbers up by the amount disclosed by Rovio above) since the acquisition happened mid-year. But also what disclosures we dom get show that once again, we need some metrics alongside the absolute emissions figures to really understand what sort of trajectory a business is on.

You'll have to excuse the slightly confusing graph, but it's important to see the raw data vz the marketing friendly version. FY2021 & FY22 were "dip" years, thanks to the pandemic, but FY23 is pushing back up towards pre-pandmic numbers. Are they more profitable than in 2019? A bit, yes, but not massively so. CO2 intensity per dollar earned then... probably not showing any real signs of decoupling profitability from emissions (yet).

Here's the glossy sustainability strategy vision page:

And below, on the right hand side of the page we get a similar encouraging "Scope 1 & 2" graph which seems to illustrate falling emissions (by extrapolating to the 2030 target). That's... fine, but where's Scope 3? Buried in that overburdened graph at the top, or only later on deep in the bowels of the report's charts and not added up to show totals. To be clear I'm not accusing anyone here of deliberate distortions, its natural to want to put the the best view forward, but we also have to be clear about where we are and the challenge ahead of us.

The report does disclose all three scopes eventually, but it's bit dissapointing to present these without totals for all three. The (good!) reduction in Scope 2 emissions, are unfortunately more than offset (in the negative sense) by the increase across both Scope 1 and Scope 3.

Corporate Targets under scrutiny in Carbon Market Watch's latest report

Things looking dicey for crucial 2030 targets from the biggest companies in the world – realistically, these near-term targets are more important than 2050 targets. The time to act is yesterday.

2030 climate targets of over 50 top corporations significantly off track to keep within 1.5°C limit - Carbon Market Watch

Deep sea internet cable repair teams – the people keeping the internet connected

This long read was one of the best pieces about the physical infrastructure I've read in a loooooong time. Simply incredible with details about the process of splicing and repairing ocean spanning cables, the political-economic dynamics facing the industry, and the people who perform this incredibly essential work. Sit down with a cuppa and enjoy it!

The invisible seafaring industry that keeps the internet afloat
How one crew risked radiation, storms, and currents to save Japan from digital isolation.

Nvidia's AI chips energy consumption

This graph is just for Nvidia's H100 tensor core, AI specialised data centre chips! It's not even counting for any 4090s. Are those overshadowed by the data centre chips I wonder? Your guess is as good as mine.

Cartography of generative AI

Very cool illustration of how these systems work and the infrastructure it all depends on.

Cartography of generative AI
The popularisation of artificial intelligence (AI) has given rise to imaginaries that invite alienation and mystification. At a time when these technologies seem to be consolidating, it is pertinent to map their connections with human activities and more than human territories. What set of extractions, agencies and resources allow us to converse online with a text-generating tool or to obtain images in a matter of seconds?

Climate Chaos Corner – LatAM special edition

Bogota is in deep drought.

Colombians told to shower with a partner as drought hits capital water supplies
Bogotá brings in water rationing with El Niño weather phenomenon meaning city could run out in under two months

And Dengue Fever is doing bad things t0 Argentinian's health, thanks in part to extending warm periods.

‘I felt pains all over my body’: Argentina battles dengue outbreak as politicians pass up vaccine opportunity
Rising temperatures, dense urban populations and increasing poverty have contributed to more than a quarter of a million cases, and campaigners don’t think the government is doing enough about it
“Our study shows that the thermal favourability for the mosquito to continue acting for longer has increased and, in this year’s case, has spread among more people,” says Sylvia Fischer, a researcher at Conicet and a co-author of the forthcoming report. “The conditions of large cities, with a large part of the population living in densely populated areas, is another significant factor.”

Milei’s administration has made no secret of its contempt for environmental matters, and the president called the climate crisis a ‘“socialist lie”, and reduced the health ministry’s budget by 40%.

Dubai's flooding was intense

Costs of Climate Chaos

Speaking of climate impacts – a huge new study was just released, in which researchers look at the locked in costs of climate change just based on the warming we've already achieved:

Using an empirical approach that provides a robust lower bound on the persistence of impacts on economic growth, we find that the world economy is committed to an income reduction of 19% within the next 26 years independent of future emission choices (relative to a baseline without climate impacts, likely range of 11–29% accounting for physical climate and empirical uncertainty). These damages already outweigh the mitigation costs required to limit global warming to 2 °C by sixfold over this near-term time frame and thereafter diverge strongly dependent on emission choices. 

My take on this sort of work is that there's only one real conclusion. Degrowth is either coming in a planned way, led by democratic principles and the curtailing of the exorbitant excesses of the worst offenders (ie the global rich), or it's coming in a shambolic, chaotic way that will destroy so much we take for granted.

That might sound alarmist but, well... just look around you. Alarms have been blaring for years.

It's not all doom though: Adam Tooze on the interface between the Brazil's agricultural boom and Amazon protection efforts is... encouraging

Amazon deforestation is terrible and major producers do engage in it and are tied to global supply chains. But the main offender here is beef and in quantitative terms Amazonian deforestation is a spillover and not a central dynamic in Brazil’s agricultural boom of recent decades. It follows that to save the Amazon we don’t need to halt the Brazilian agroindustrial juggernaut. What needs to be done is for Brazilian authorities to vigorously and proactively enforce its extensive forestry laws and protect indigenous rights. This is no mean task. It involves confronting substantial local interests with the greater force of national power. But it does not involve a revolutionary overthrow of the existing order of things. 
Chartbook 273: Feeding the world, whilst “sparing land”? Debating the rise of modern Brazilian agriculture.
The emergence of Brazil as a huge net exporter of foodstuffs is one of the most dramatic stories of recent economic history. If there is one country that can claim to feed the world, it is Brazil. It is not the world’s largest producer of food, or even the largest exporter. But it has the largest net trade surplus in foodstuffs i.e. it provides the biggest net flow of food to global markets. Brazil is one of the few large producers with additional capacity to increase exports. Its model of agriculture is touted as a model for the development of Savannah agriculture in Africa. Brazil is also by the same token one of the countries, of near-continental size, where the future of the world’s climate will be decided. The Amazon is key to the global ecosystem. And land use changes more generally make Brazil, despite its modest level of industrial production and affluence, into one of the largest sources of CO2 emissions in the world.

Give communities control over carbon removal

A striking proposal to put power over carbon removal in the hands of the people.

Give Communities Control of Carbon Removal
To keep polluters from profiting from the technology, we need public ownership.

How long to decommission an early nuclear plant?

World Nuclear News (which doesn’t seem to be anti-nuclear by any means) describes the completion of a 20 year long process (!!) to remove a particular sort of nuclear waste from an early decomissioned nuclear reactor in Scotland. The mind boggles. 

Waste transfer milestone at Scottish plant : Waste & Recycling - World Nuclear News
The retrieval has been completed of more than 2100 tonnes of solid intermediate-level radioactive waste from five above-ground concrete bunkers at the Hunterston A Magnox nuclear power plant in Scotland. The project began 20 years ago.

Development banks finance – new report by Oil Change international

Here are a few key findings from the report: 

  • From 2020-2022 support for fossil fuels from G20 countries international finance institutions and MDBs averaged at least USD 47 billion a year, almost 1.4 times their support for clean energy in the same period. Just 8% of all G20 and MDB international finance for energy went to low-income countries. 
  • Of that, 71% was for fossil fuels, and delivered virtually no energy access, despite this argument being used frequently to justify continued fossil fuel finance. 
  • The majority of G20 countries’ clean energy finance is going to wealthy countries, not to where it is most needed. Between 2020-2022, just 3% of all clean energy financing went to low-income countries.
Public Enemies: Assessing MDB and G20 international finance institutions’ energy finance - Oil Change International
This new report, “Public Enemies: Assessing MDB and G20 international finance institutions’ energy finance” looks at G20 country and MDB traceable international public finance for fossil fuels from 2020-2022 and finds they are still backing at least USD 47 billion per year in oil, gas, and coal projects.

Not a great outlook - LNG forecasts remain high for SEA as renewable build-out miss targets

Japan, Korea and Taiwan are all struggling to meet their emissions reduction targets as they work to decarbonize their energy systems. Failures to grow renewables in the power sector fast enough to meet end-of-decade emission targets mean that there will inevitably be recourse to LNG and even coal imports at higher volumes for longer. While all three countries are publicly committed to decarbonization, they are characterized by varied political approaches and energy circumstances. But important commonalities exist amongst the three. In terms of renewables, the most obvious is that while some growth is evident in solar power, wind power growth has lagged behind targets badly. Nuclear restarts in Japan remain a vexed political topic and are therefore uncertain while, on the other hand, Korea’s plans to sustain recent strong growth look reasonable given new nuclear plants under construction. Taiwan’s commitment to winding down nuclear by next year means more LNG as its growth in renewables falls short. All other things being equal we expect LNG is likely to maintain a stronger profile in the energy mix – closer to the OIES Declared Policy Scenarios (DPS) than the IEA or even some government targets. Government reality checks on energy strategy that may include relaxation of medium and long-term emissions targets, would reinforce that expectation.

Phew! Long one this week. Thanks for sticking around. If you enjoyed it please consider sharing it with someone else who you think might too.