Reduce Your Business’s Carbon Emissions with the Cloud
Senior Content Marketer & Technical Expert
Tech Leaders Corner
Cloud & DevOps
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we each found comfort in watching the newest series. While for the first time for a long while our carbon emissions fell, our binge watching was not fully a clean act. In fact, it was partially responsible for mass pollution. Sure, buying popcorn and drinking soda also had a carbon footprint, but it was just a drop in an ocean. The real issue was the fact that streaming companies did not use clean clouds. Your company may not be, either. Luckily, migrating to another cloud is easy, and it also soon could be necessary.
As we all know, we are rapidly reaching the point of no return for the climate. The entire world is scrambling to find an adequate solution. Countries take part in international treaties like the Paris Agreement. Companies like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are working hard to cut their emissions. Microsoft aspires to be carbon neutral by 2030. Some firms made specific statements, which we shall discuss further below. More importantly, we now have tools for measuring our environmental impact, which we will demonstrate.
Even though we don’t see it, the internet is a huge polluter. If the Internet was a country, it would place 5th or 6th on the list of countries with the highest elecricity usage. That’s a lot of energy! That’s why cloud providers do everything in their power to become carbon neutral, and to give us tools to reduce the amount of emmissions our actions release to the atmosphere.
Why And How Do We Report Carbon Emissions
Carbon emissions reporting is the practice of measuring and recording an organization's or individual's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is often accomplished by employing inventory management software, which can measure GHG emissions from all sources, including energy production, transportation, industrial processes, and waste disposal. The information gathered can then be utilized to create plans for lowering carbon footprints and enhancing sustainability practices.
The CO2 equivalent (CO2e) is a metric that allows companies to compare various types of GHGs on a single scale. For example, one tonne of methane has the same global warming potential as 28 tonnes of CO2 over 100 years; so, its contribution to climate change is assigned a value of 28 tonnes. Organizations can more properly analyze their environmental impact and make educated decisions about how to mitigate it by utilizing this statistic when estimating their overall GHG emissions.
Microsoft has committed to becoming "carbon negative" by 2030, which means that it will remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits. Microsoft is investing $1 billion in a climate innovation fund to research innovative carbon capture and storage technologies to meet this lofty target.
The company also intends to cut emissions generated directly by itself and those in its supply chain in half by 2030, raise internal carbon fees, use 100% renewable energy sources for data centers and other facilities by 2025, plant new forests and expand existing ones, use soil carbon capture and storage techniques, deploy direct air capture methods using large fans with filters that can remove CO2 from the atmosphere, and produce bio-energy with carbon capture.
These actions are part of Microsoft's commitment to combating climate change and creating a better planet for future generations.
Microsoft Emissions Impact Dashboard
The Microsoft Emissions Impact Dashboard is a sophisticated tool that assists cloud users in understanding, tracking, reporting, analyzing, and reducing carbon emissions that are directly or indirectly related with their usage. It gives clients visibility into greenhouse gas emissions and allows them to drill down into emissions by month, service, and datacenter area.
The dashboard also displays carbon emissions by scope year over year, allowing enterprises to observe trends and make informed decisions regarding cloud services utilization. Some large corporations have previously successfully used this tool to accomplish their sustainability objectives.
What the Redmond corporation recently let everyone to do is gain access to the emissions via an API. Companies that wish to construct personalized company dashboards may now do so effortlessly.
Unfortunately, the tool is built using Power BI, so the access is a bit more difficult than in the case of Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud Platform.
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
“We became the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy.”
We created The Climate Pledge Fund — a $2 billion investment to support the development of technologies and services that reduce carbon emissions.
AWS is dedicated to lowering its environmental impact and becoming more sustainable.
To achieve this aim, they are developing data centers that are efficient and robust while having a low environmental effect. Amazon has made investments in energy efficiency throughout their infrastructure, from hardware design to operations modeling.
According to studies, switching to AWS can help clients reduce carbon emissions by up to 80% when compared to corporate data centers.
With investments in wind and solar projects throughout the world, the US cloud provider is also on track to power its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2040.
Furthermore, they have made initiatives to reduce carbon emissions related to the fabrication of steel for data center structures as well as concrete for new US locations that will be expanded internationally soon.
Overall, Amazon is on track to power its operations entirely with renewable energy by 2025, five years earlier than the initial objective of 2030.
Customer Carbon Footprint Tool
According to the corporation, the simplest approach to reduce carbon emissions is to relocate to less carbon-intensive countries. Naturally, this is not always possible. Especially when targeting a certain geographic region or country, where latency is essential.
If this is the case, your services may not need to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Establishing restrictions is a simple method to cut your emissions. In any case, all AWS customers benefit from the company's long-term objective of being carbon neutral. Your actions will emit less carbon into the environment if you make no modifications.
AWS's carbon footprint calculator is provided in the Billing Console. Go to the Consumer Carbon Footprint Tool after clicking on the Cost & Usage reports. Customers may use Amazon's tool to examine their anticipated carbon emissions over a certain time, by area and service, and compare those emissions to what would have been utilized in an enterprise data center.
Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
Google is taking a lot of steps to reduce the harm they do to the environment and become more sustainable.
The tech giant has promised to run their data centers on carbon-free energy by 2030. This means that all its data centers will run around the clock on electricity that doesn't emit carbon dioxide.
Google also helps other companies switch to more environmentally friendly ways of doing things by giving them money, ideas, and technology.
Also, the company keeps 78 percent of its trash out of landfills and runs all its cloud regions on energy that comes from renewable sources. With a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) score of 1.1, their data centers are five times as efficient as they were five years ago. This is much more efficient than the way most business data centers work. As part of their Carbon Sense package, they've even made tools that allow people everywhere to report their emissions and act against climate change.
Google not only puts efficiency first in how they run their own business, but they also encourage others to do the same by making their performance statistics available to the whole industry. They have adopted the ideas of a circular economy to encourage sustainability further down the supply chain. The main goal of the principles of a circular economy is to design waste and pollution while keeping resources in use for longer or recycling them when it makes sense to do so.
Finally, Google has made partnerships with many groups all over the world that are using AI and ML-based solutions to fix the world's oceans, forests, and animals. This is a good thing to do, and we should all support it.
Carbon Sense Suite
To use Google's service to lower your company's carbon emissions, you must first comprehend how carbon free energy percentage (CFE%) characterizes the consumption of carbon-free energy in cloud areas.
Carbon free energy percentage (CFE%) is a metric that shows how much carbon-free energy cloud regions use. It is found by dividing the total amount of renewable or carbon-free electricity used by the total amount of electricity used in a region, expressed as a percentage.
This metric helps organizations figure out how much of the power for their cloud infrastructure comes from sources like solar, wind, and hydroelectricity that don't use fossil fuels. By keeping track of CFE%, organizations can figure out how far they've come in reducing their carbon footprint and decide where to put their resources for future sustainability projects.
To better understand the carbon footprint caused by your usage, use the Carbon Footprint tool.
Use Region Picker to select the best cloud locations after that based on relative factors like cost, latency, and carbon footprint. Further advised are the creation of organizational policies that limit consumption to Low CO2 zones and the migration of VMs from less effective on-premises data centers to Compute Engine wherever practical.
Use Active Help tools like eliminating unused VMs and optimizing VM shapes, as well as shutting down unattended projects as necessary, to reduce the amount of resources that are not being used.
It's also crucial to perform batch operations at times of day that coincide with reduced grid carbon intensity, if practicable for your business case, and prioritize those that make the best use of resources.
Finally, to reduce latency, try running applications in cloud regions close to users or clients and using CDN caching for static content like images or videos. By doing this, you can avoid needlessly increasing traffic from end user locations back up into original servers, potentially increasing the amount of emissions produced overall.
The world's largest cloud providers, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform, have all taken significant steps to lessen their environmental effect. Each of them has set lofty carbon-neutrality targets and invested in renewable energy sources. Companies also give clients tools to track their own emissions and make decisions about how to minimize them.
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