As technology companies and organizations across various sectors increasingly rely on third-party cloud computing services for their software and infrastructure needs, it is important
to understand the environmental footprint associated with these services.
It’s easy to miss this piece while calculating carbon emissions from a company’s operations. From my research and discussion with other software professionals, many people erroneously think that cloud providers manage all emissions resulting from their operations, including their clients’ footprint. However, it's not the case.
Cloud service providers like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have made significant strides in sustainability and renewable energy adoption, but it's essential for companies utilizing these platforms to take responsibility for their own emissions.
By calculating their cloud computing emissions, companies can assess and monitor the carbon footprint generated by their digital operations. This allows for a more accurate understanding of the environmental impact of their operations and opens doors for effective mitigation strategies.
Plus, it aligns with sustainability goals, demonstrates corporate responsibility, and even presents potential cost-saving opportunities.
If your company uses one of the three cloud computing platforms mentioned above, here are some resources they provide to help you get insights into your cloud applications' carbon footprint. They also include suggestions on how to minimize that footprint.
If your organization uses AWS (Amazon Web Services) cloud computing platform, in this blog post Jeff Barr, Vice President & Chief Evangelist at AWS introduces their Customer Carbon Tool Calculator which provides the carbon footprint of your cloud infrastructure for a given range of dates by services and geography. The calculator also gives you access to visual tools which help understand and manage your emissions better.
In addition, this AWS blog post includes best practices for building a sustainable product in the cloud.
If your company uses GCP (Google Cloud Platform), this page includes information and other resources that you can utilize to understand your carbon footprint on Google Cloud, and methods that you can use to minimize that footprint.
Finally, if you are a Microsoft AZURE user, Microsoft’s Emissions Impact Dashboard is a business intelligence application for Azure enterprise customers. It provides new insight into carbon emissions data associated with their Azure services.
And if your cloud services provider is not one of the big three above, it may have its own emissions calculation tools to provide its clients with insights into their companies’ cloud computing carbon footprint.
To keep global warming to no more than 1.5°C – as called for in the Paris Agreement – we need to reduce global emissions by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
The tools above empower companies to estimate their emissions based on cloud usage, energy mix, and other factors, enabling them to make informed decisions and reduce their digital carbon footprint to meet the Paris Agreement goal!
P.S. Through one of my clients I had a chance to use AWS Customer Carbon Tool Calculator results. However, I’ve learned about Google’s and Microsoft’s tools through research only.