David Mytton


Academic papers

Assessing the suitability of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol for calculation of emissions from public cloud computing workloads (2020)

Published in the Journal of Cloud Computing 9, 45 (2020) (10.1186/s13677-020-00185-8). Open access: GitHub, Spiral.

Efficiency improvements over the past decade have meant that data center energy usage has decoupled from the growth in IT workloads. Much of this efficiency improvement has been attributed to innovations made by “hyperscale” public cloud vendors, where a large proportion of new IT workloads are now being deployed. However, the move to the cloud is making it more difficult to assess the environmental impact of workloads deployed there. Although the large cloud vendors are amongst the largest purchasers of renewable electricity, customers do not have access to the data they need to complete emissions assessments under the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Data such as Power Usage Effectiveness, emissions factors and equipment embodied energy are not available from public cloud vendors. This paper demonstrates how the Greenhouse Gas Protocol method of assessment of IT emissions does not work for public cloud environments and suggests how this can be tackled by the cloud vendors themselves.

Hiding greenhouse gas emissions in the cloud (2020)

Published in Nature Climate Change 10, 701 (2020) (10.1038/s41558-020-0837-6). Full-text access: Nature, Spiral. See also the related Imperial College London interview.

Data centres account for 1% of total global electricity demand but this may grow to between 15-30% of electricity consumption in some countries by 2030. The majority of this growth is attributed to cloud computing, particularly the larg-est “hyperscale” vendors. IT emissions previously accounted for under the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Scope 1 and Scope 2 move to Scope 3 when outsourced to the cloud. However, the data needed to complete those calculations is not available from cloud vendors. Further, since Scope 3 emissions tend to be reported only voluntarily and the emissions are aggregated into the global emissions reporting by the large cloud vendors, this can result in emissions being hidden when they are moved to the cloud.

Blog articles

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