Tag: carbon emissions

Carbon Disclosure Project’s emissions reduction claims for cloud computing are flawed

data center
The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is a not-for-profit organisation which takes in greenhouse gas emissions, water use and climate change strategy data from thousands of organisations globally. This data is voluntarily disclosed by these organisations and is CDP’s lifeblood.

Yesterday the CDP launched a new study Cloud Computing – The IT Solution for the 21st Century a very interesting report which

delves into the advantages and potential barriers to cloud computing adoption and gives insights from the multi-national firms that were interviewed

The study, produced by Verdantix, looks great on the surface. They have talked to 11 global firms that have been using cloud computing for over two years and they have lots of data on the financial savings made possible by cloud computing. There is even reference to other advantages of cloud computing – reduced time to market, capex to opex, flexibility, automation, etc.

However, when the report starts to reference the carbon reductions potential of cloud computing it makes a fundamental error. One which is highlighted by CDP Executive Chair Paul Dickinson in the Foreword when he says

allowing companies to maximize performance, drive down costs, reduce inefficiency and minimize energy use – and therefore carbon emissions

[Emphasis added]

The mistake here is presuming a direct relationship between energy and carbon emissions. While this might seem like a logical assumption, it is not necessarily valid.

If I have a company whose energy retailer is selling me power generated primarily by nuclear or renewable sources for example, and I move my applications to a cloud provider whose power comes mostly from coal, then the move to cloud computing will increase, not decrease, my carbon emissions.

The report goes on to make some very aggressive claims about the carbon reduction potential of cloud computing. In the executive summary, it claims:

US businesses with annual revenues of more than $1 billion can cut CO2 emissions by 85.7 million metric tons annually by 2020

and

A typical food & beverage firm transitioning its human resources (HR) application from dedicated IT to a public cloud can reduce CO2 emissions by 30,000 metric tons over five years

But because these are founded on an invalid premise, the report could just as easily have claimed:

Lockheed Martin Going Green!

Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor
When you hear the name Lockheed Martin – you don’t immediately think “Ah, now there’s a Green company” – they are after all, among the very largest defence contractors in the world. In 2008 70% of Lockheed Martin’s revenues came from military sales.

However, after a recent discussion with Dr David Constable, Lockheed Martin’s VP for Energy, Environment, Safety and Health, my impression of the company’s Green credentials has definitely gone up a couple of notches.

Lockheed Martin started their Go Green program in 2008 partially out of a desire to ‘do the right thing’ according to Dr Constable but also in response to increasing concern on their customer’s part to sustainability.

Submarine launch of a Lockheed Trident missile

Submarine launch of a Lockheed Trident missile

The US military, for example – America’s largest energy consumer, invested $2.7 billion last year to improve energy efficiency according to President Obama. The US Army’s Environmental Command (the US Army has an Environmental Command? Who knew?) has a comprehensive page of Sustainability Links to How-To Guides, Tools and relevant Green departments, facilities and organisations.

Similarly, the UK’s Ministry of Defence, and Royal Mail, two other large Lockheed Martin customers, both asked Lockheed Martin to participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project. According to Dr Constable, in their first year of disclosure, Lockheed Martin were amongst the top performers in their sector and, he said, this next year they aim to improve on that.

With it’s Go Green initiative, Lockheed Martin set itself a goal of reducing its carbon footprint, water footprint and waste-to-landfill footprint by 25% in absolute terms…

Friday Green Numbers round-up 07/30/2010

Green Numbers
Photo credit Lauren Manning

And here are this week’s Green Numbers:

Friday Green Numbers round-up 04/23/2010

Green numbers
Photo credit Unhindered by Talent

And here is this week’s Green numbers:

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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How not to implement a carbon tax

Smoke
Photo credit pfala

The decision by the French government to back down on plans to enact a carbon tax is very disappointing, and not a little puzzling.

President Sarkozy initially said plans to introduce a carbon tax were

a monumental act of the French Republic — a measure so important President Nicolas Sarkozy ranked it beside “decolonization, election of the President by universal suffrage, abolition of the death sentence and legalization of abortion” in the list of national accomplishments.

However, implementation of the tax was dropped recently after President Sarkozy’s party lost disastrously in regional elections.

According to the New York Times,

The idea of a carbon tax had been widely opposed by France’s business lobby, which argued that it would increase costs, as well as by members of the governing party, which opposed the idea of a new tax.

The French government hoped to raise $4.7 billion to $6.1 billion in new annual revenues to finance state-funded ecological investments from the proposed tax.

This is crazy.

Why did no-one propose enacting a carbon tax which was overall cost neutral?

To implement this – instead of just a carbon tax (i.e. an extra tax on top of existing costs) he could have
1. Reduced corporate tax by an amount roughly equivalent to the amount expected to be recouped by the carbon tax and then levied a carbon tax (overall take remains the same but polluters pay more) or
2. implemented it as a kind of tax break for carbon reductions (i.e. the more you pollute, the less tax break you get)

Given that the carbon tax was such a large part of President Sarkozy’s election platform it is odd that he didn’t attempt any alternative means of rolling it out. He has now effectively shelved the idea of a carbon tax for the forseeable future in France and he gives the appearance of backing down. Not something he has been keen to do up to now!

There is obviously more going on here that I am missing – anyone care to enlighten me?

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NightWatchman saving energy

Night Watchman
Following on from my earlier post about the importance of turning things off, we had a briefing the other day from a company called 1E.

1E entered the power management space about 10 years ago when they wrote NightWatchman. NightWatchman is a PC power management application which aims to reduce the energy wasted by computers not being turned off at the end of the working day.

They were well ahead of the market (remember, they started 10 years ago, long before there was any power management built into the operating system) and, in fact, they had a hard time selling NightWatchman until about three years ago.

NightWatchman is now deployed on 4 million PCs worldwide savingcustomers US $360 million in energy costs and preventing 3 million tons of CO2 emissions, according to 1E.

As an interesting aside, the name NightWatchman came from the fact that the software was originally written for a company who had a security guard going around at night turning off computers and monitors! In fact, in the first seven years it was sold as a security and patching tool (it would allow companies to shut off computers in the evening and schedule a window in the middle of the night during which the computers would power up to download any security updates and patches which had been released).

In their whitepaper, entitled ‘Why Power Schemes are not Enough?’ [PDF] 1E make a great point –

It is impossible to monitor and report on the energy used by your PC estate (and therefore the cost and CO2 emissions this causes) using only the built-in tools that come with Windows. Because of the lack of built-in monitoring of energy usage, organizations are unaware of the lack of effectiveness of Windows sleep timers.

Windows power schemes should therefore not be used as the mechanism for reliable overnight and weekend energy saving for PCs.

Dell rolled out NightWatchman and wrote a white paper on the experience [pdf] – from the case study:

1E NightWatchman software saves files and closes applications and shuts down or places into sleep mode computers in the Microsoft Windows environment while preventing data loss and application errors. It also allows computers to be turned off from a central location, at a specified time, while providing extensive reports for management.

NightWatchman works with SMSWakeUp, which repowers computers in synchronization with Microsoft SMS. Administrators can boot computers from a centralized command so they can deploy security patches or new applications during off-hours.

By deploying 1E’s NightWatchman and SMSWakeUp applications to its 50,000 client computers, Dell expects to realize up to a 40 percent reduction in computer-related energy costs, which could translate into US$1.8 million in savings annually.

AT&T also installed 1E and from the release on AT&T’s rollout [PDF] it said:

[AT&T] is launching the NightWatchman® PC power management solution from 1E on 310,000 desktop computers across its domestic operations to help improve energy efficiency. Powering down corporate PCs during non-work hours is expected to save AT&T more than 135 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year and eliminate 123,941 tons of carbon dioxide emissions — equivalent to the electricity required to power 14,892 homes.

1E also have a server version of their NightWatchman software – this program identifies under-utilised servers, allowing them to be either re-deployed or decommissioned – fewer servers means less energy consumed by server sprawl. NightWatchman Server also has an energy management component built-in which has the added benefit of reducing heat from servers and therefore the air conditioning load in data centers required to cool the servers.

All of this means less energy costs and fewer CO2 emissions for companies. Go 1E!

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Friday Morning Green Numbers round-up 01/29/2010

Green numbers
Photo credit: Unhindered by Talent


Photo credit Unhindered by Talent

Here is this Friday’s Green Numbers round-up:

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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What If We Create a Better World For Nothing?

091207usatoday global warming.91
One of my goals in 2010 is to help move the sustainability debate beyond Global Warming. Global Warming or Climate Change is still arguable – while other environmental impacts and issues are not. Its surely time for sustainability advocates to reframe our narrative – and get beyond the Global Warming debate. We might as well try and convince evangelicals of evolution… instead we need to start focusing on immediate and real issues- such as a lack of potable water in many geographies. Energy independence is perhaps the best argument for renewal energy. People are generally more worried about national security than the potentials threats of global warming.

Of course some really major climate events may change the game, but for now, we should focus on the changes we can make in terms of business, culture and politics. You can understand why I love this cartoon from USA Today, which sums my thoughts up beautifully.

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CO2 emissions vs income

CO2 vs GNP 1975-2002

I generated this graph on Prof Hans Rosling’s Gapminder.org site.

The data shows, somewhat surprisingly that the increase in carbon emissions in countries like Ireland and the US from 1975 to 2002 are not in any way mirrored by any increases in China or India.

In the recent Bali talks (and the Kyoto talks before that) the US held up the developing countries as major polluters and refused to sign Kyoto (and created all kinds of fuss at Bali) because of the amounts of pollution being emitted by developing countries.

This is obviously delaying tactics for Bush’s friends in the oil business in Texas and Saudi. The US Ambassador to Ireland conceded that China may exceed the US’s total emissions in 2008. Compare the income per capita between the US and China again and even if Chinese total emissions do exceed the US in 2008, they are still far less polluting per capita than the US.

And the Chinese were looking for a stronger agreement at Bali than the US.

The sooner Bush and his oil cronies are out of office, the sooner we can move on with trying to clean up the planet.