GTG links no. 21 – 15th May

A picture of earth from space, showing coastline and light blue waters on the left, darker water on right
Photo by NASA / Unsplash

Sony’s Earth Day update on its enviro plans

More use of recycled and reduced use of plastics, and a bit on console energy efficiency:

Energy used by consoles in the home constitutes SIE’s largest source of carbon emissions. We estimate that in total, the energy used by PS4 and PS5 consoles globally was5.1 Terawatt-hours (TWh) in 20225, while the estimated total carbon equivalent emissions arising from console electricity use were 1.7million metric tons CO2e(MtCO2e) for this period.

Emissions from this part of the console lifecycle of the PS5 are lower than the PS4 as well – some of this will be down to the engineering efficiency done by Sony (standby and media modes being far more efficient than prev gen) but the majority of it will just be down to the renewable transition (so I don't think there's a ton of credit deserved there). Still, more useful disclosures and action.

SIE Celebrates Earth Day 2023 – Sony Interactive Entertainment

Activision Blizzard’s ESG report is out

Featuring big increases in (market based) purchase of renewables, and a bunch of supply chain engagements, data centre stuff, and more. Emissions grew a bit from 2021, however the report notes:

we still rely heavily on spend-based emissions data and, accordingly, business growth significantly drives increases in our Scope 3 emissions.

What sorts of things are going to be required to decouple business growth from emissions in the games industry? Is it even possible? I for one would like to find out.

Activision Blizzard 2022 ESG Report
Throughout 2022, we stepped up our environmental, social, and governance (ESG) efforts by meeting or exceeding commitments in each of our key pillars: Championing Our People, Advancing Diverse and Inclusive Communities, and Protecting the Planet. From DE&I to accessibility to environmental sustaina…

343i on green councils in game studios

Seven Steps that Made Halo Infinite More Energy Efficient and How Your Studio Can Do It Too
In August 2022, 343 Industries officially kicked off their Sustainability initiative. In this talk, we are offering a roadmap for developers who want to get started on Gaming Sustainability with their studio. From obtaining the appropriate approvals, to getting a team together and developing your fi…

Solar Protocol group exhibition: ‘Sun Thinking’

I have a piece on this, along with some other creative digital works that respond to the climate crisis, coming out in the next few weeks. The two must-read pieces from it (for me) are Anne Pasek's reflection on making digital infrastructures visible, and Jen Liu's essay on hurricane affected communities in southern Louisiana learning how to develop power resilience using solar. But then I'm a sucker for good essays. The creative works are awesome too – I played but didn't finish Everst Pipkin's  "drift mine satellite" which was a fun repair and mantenance themed bit of interactive fiction.

Sun Thinking
A group exhibition hosted on Solar Protocol

Former Intel sustainability director Mel Gregg has launched a new blog

Mel's writing was super influential on me as an early career academic, even before she moved into doing sustainability work. Just an absolutely top-tier thinker, as she is here on what the Framework and repairable devices mean for sustainability:

“After Framework, we don’t need CES, or MWC, or any trademarked “developer day” to determine the place and time for what’s new. We don’t need to be told it’s too complicated to build computers differently, when the deck has been stacked to keep existing suppliers and accounts happy. We don’t need market research that serves the interests of insatiable upgrades and disposability. Instead, we need to heed what users are saying is missing in order for them to live in alignment with values that serve a future world they want built.”
On Framework, and actually hearing user needs on sustainability
The first and only time I attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Kim Pallister suggested I meet someone with an interesting idea for a product. Early one morning in the eternal twilight of The Venetian Resort, Nirav Patel and his Framework team pitched me the idea of a sustainable lapto

Worlds Greenest Gamer Competition

UK based startup Gratitude – who offer gamers a subsriptions to offset their gaming emissions – are running a competition to find “the world’s greenest gamer” with some pretty substantial prize money.

Passion for the Planet Project
Join Gratitude's GLOBAL Passion For The Planet competition and show your love for the environment! This is your chance to inspire your friends, family, and people worldwide to join Gratitude and support environmental projects that matter to you. To participate in this GLOBAL competition, simply…

ESG research & greenwashing

Cheap talk on climate action predicts emissions negligence.

How Cheap Talk in Climate Disclosures relates to Climate Initiatives, Corporate Emissions, and Reputation Risk
Navigating the complex landscape of corporate climate disclosures is crucial for managing climate-related financial risks. However, current disclosures suffer f

Similarly, not a new piece, but super interesting, the Harvard Business Review wrote about research last year on the risks to brands' relationships with customers that comes with greenwashing:

To understand just how deeply greenwashing hurts consumer sentiment, we studied 202 publicly traded large U.S. firms. …We found that customers are highly likely to be aware of the gap between stated goals and implementation, and that customer satisfaction levels...fall as the number of goals outweighs the number of actions. This disconnect triggers perceptions of corporate hypocrisy, which affects the customers’ experience with the product itself.

Greenwashing doesn't just hurt brands, it hurts customers direct experience with products. Super fascinating results.

How Greenwashing Affects the Bottom Line
New research shows that when companies overcommit and/or do not deliver on promised socially responsible initiatives they damage their relationships with their customers. However, a company’s reputation for product quality or innovation may partially mitigate such a negative impact on customer satis…

And lastly, an overview piece on all the different regions that are cracking down on Greenwashing around the world, and the staggering figures now committed:

Net-zero targets now cover 91% of global GDP, compared with 16% just four years ago. But to have any hope of meeting the Paris agreement’s targets, the first step is to ensure that governments and companies are setting realistic goals that they can back up with credible data.
The Coming Crackdown on Corporate Greenwashing | by Richard Black - Project Syndicate
Richard Black argues that firms’ carbon-neutral promises must be regulated and independently verified.

Consumption vs Production calculations

There's a piece I have been meaning to write for weeks now about the GHG Protocol market vs location based calculation methods and the ongoing debate about what to do about it to avoid double counting. This piece from Electricity Maps touches on a similar sort of problem with the same level of complexity, but from a different angle. I have spent months deep in the weeds on some of this stuff and I still struggle with it. Even ESG disclosures are requiring a degree of technical sophistication that I think is surprising many, it seems like every year there's new best-practice, new expectations.

Consumption vs Production carbon intensity: Why emissions should be calculated with consumption data
Carbon emissions data can be calculated with a consumption-based or a production-based approach. This blog post highlights the differences between the two approaches and outlines why to use consumption carbon intensity

The data centre corner

AWS is going to make scope 3 data available to customers in 2024 – catching up with where GCP, Azure seem to already be at. Better late than never!

AWS confirms Scope 3 GHG emissions data will be made freely available to customers in ‘early 2024’ | Computer Weekly
With regulators increasingly calling on companies to transparently report their greenhouse gas emissions data, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has confirmed users will get access to Scope 3 data from early next year.

World data centre energy usage is apparently up to 4% (from 1% a few years ago). Yikes.

How Power-Hungry Are Data Centers? | Energy Efficiency in the Cloud | Intel Technology -
In this What That Means video, Lily Looi, Intel Fellow, explains to Camille energy efficiency in the cloud, or data centers.

This one makes me wonder about the long-term trends here – and reminds me of this 2015 piece by some Huawei engineers that was highly influential on me, and which got poo-poo'd a bit by some industry insiders. It also gives me pause about the sustainability of this growth – yes data centres are almost guaranteed to be more efficient than running lots of local machines, but are there other forces countervailing the pure efficiency argument? Are we defaulting to cloud based solutions because its a genuine improvement (and we should ask, an improvement for who? For businesses, sure, but for customers?) or because it's there and provides an easy revenue stream? I'm kind of tired of SaaS to be quite honest. I have enough subscriptions dipping into my pocket every month... (maybe thats just me).

European regulatory updates

And on the subject of data centres, the EU has a new mandatory data centre energy efficiency directive. Nice.

The SDIA welcomes the deal of the European Council and Parliament on the Energy Efficiency Directive
The SDIA welcomes the deal of the European Council and Parliament on the Energy Efficiency Directive

And the text of the actual legislation itself for the über-nerdes:

EUR-Lex - 52023PC0166 - EN - EUR-Lex

And a really good Compensate FAQ on the details of the EU green claims legislation. I think I linked the webinar last time, but this is a bunch of questions from the end of it that they had from the audience.

Webinar Q&A: The EU Green Claims Directive – key takeaways - Compensate
The Compensate webinar, The EU Green Claims Directive – key takeaways, was arranged in April 2023.We received lots of questions from the participants during the webinar and have answered these questions in this Q&A.

US regulatory updates

The outcome of the SEC's ESG rules could determine whether the EU regulators decide to force non-EU companies operating in Europe to follow EU rules or not. Ironic if a laxity at the SEC saw more regulations applied to US companies in Europe than if they actually did some regulating.  

SEC Climate Rules Could Decide Whether U.S. Firms Face Tough EU Law
The European Union could require thousands of U.S. companies to disclose detailed emissions data if the Securities and Exchange Commission passes rules that fall short of EU standards.

Green finance on-chain report is unequivocal

We find that bringing carbon and biodiversity offsets on-chain will not significantly address their environmental integrity and social issues, while at the same time creating additional concerns, such as a potential worsening of land speculation and conflicts over land-use, and further entrenching the false narrative that rich countries do not need to change their lifestyle.

As a result, tokenised offsets will not be greener than their non-tokenised counterparts, and therefore cannot be a significant part of the solution to address climate change and critical loss of biodiversity.

I looked into one of these types of programs a few weeks ago and just couldn't get excited by it. A solution in search of a problem.

Offsets on-chained: a policy report on tokenised offsets & other “green” crypto-assets
An increasing number of initiatives are being launched to tokenise carbon and biodiversity offset credits. However, carbon offsetting remains controversial, having been plagued with environmental i…

Climate Chaos

1 in 3 people on earth hit by monster Asian heatwave. Time to think long and hard about what we're asking the majority of the world to accept if we don't get this transition right.

One in three people on the planet hit by ‘monster Asian heatwave’
Temperature records broken as extreme conditions grip 12 countries

New research from Carbon Brief shows that in the last 10 years ~40% of the planet has seen all time record temps.

Analysis: Half the global population saw all-time record temperatures over past decade
About half the world’s population is living in regions that saw their hottest daily temperatures since 1950 during the past 10 years.

Lets end with some good news

BBC reports that the UK is now powered by a majority of wind power for the first time.

Wind is main source of UK electricity for first time
Wind power overtakes gas for the first time in the UK during first three months of year.

Really good plastic eating enzymes and plastic upcycling video.

Microsoft quietly shifts to supporting right to repair.

Microsoft quietly supported legislation to make it easier to fix devices. Here’s why that’s a big deal.
Major tech companies have long opposed the right to repair, but Microsoft is finally engaging with lawmakers and activists.

Cambridge Digital Assets Program releases big new analysis of Ethereum pre/post merge. Awesome result.

New tool estimates environmental impact of blockchain networks - News & insight - Cambridge Judge Business School
Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance’s new digital platform looks at the environmental impact of blockchain networks such as Ethereum.

Ciao for now.