Talk:Sustainability

Active discussions

Congratulations!Edit

This is a big milestone. --Gnom (talk) Let's make Wikipedia green! 14:26, 19 September 2019 (UTC)

Indeed, thank you. It was not very nice to hijack the title which used to be a redirect, though. Nemo 16:46, 19 September 2019 (UTC)
Thank you Gnom. --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)

Real estateEdit

Can you provide more information on the statement that "Green building features are already in place through property management"? Is it just referring to the "LEED Gold" certification mentioned in Wikimedia Foundation headquarters? That's not especially useful for an international audience: it would be more interesting to hear about exact figures such as kWh/m²-y. Nemo 16:46, 19 September 2019 (UTC)

Yes Nemo, the green building features mentioned are in reference to the LEED Gold certification of the WMF headquarters. LEED is a certification program utilized internationally. The WMF-specific carbon footprint results are shown in the report starting on page 19. --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
 
Table with consumption by area
I assume you mean this sentence: «Post Montgomery Center – Total Building Consumption Information prorated for WMF % of total area» and the table on p. 30 which reports 15,541.17 kWh gas plus 238,695.34 kWh electricity for the Wikimedia Foundation headquarters, while pp. 27-28 provide some legend and square feet figures?
Thank you, but that still doesn't provide a clear figure understandable for an international audience. Writing clearly implies some effort to avoid USA-specific jargon.
Of course I can calculate myself that the provided information implies an energy consumption of 144 kWh/m²-year. I could mention that a standard like ClimateHouse gives its third best rating to buildings under 50 kWh/m²-year, but these figures are not directly comparable. So I reiterate the request that you provide appropriate calculations yourself.
It's not something I ask for my benefit: it's for WMF's benefit. WMF should have done its homework to have an understandable and comparable figure before placing highly questionable statements such as "Green building features are already in place" in its blog posts. Looking at the real numbers helps avoid embarrassments. Nemo 10:31, 3 October 2019 (UTC)

Carbon offsettingEdit

I’m curious if WMF has considered buying forest to offset some co2? 2.1 kilotons could be offset with Maybe 1-2000 acres of forest:

“A fifty-year-old forest on average absorbs .8 metric tons of carbon per acre per year. A 65 year old forest 1.6 metric tons per acre per year.”

Source: http://www.forestecologynetwork.org/climate_change/sequestration_facts.html

Victorgrigas (talk) 18:29, 19 September 2019 (UTC)

Thank you for sharing this Victorgrigas. WMF is committed to exploring options which will lead to the reduction or offsetting of our carbon emissions. --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)

Climate actionEdit

I find WikimediaFoundation.org participating in Global Climate Strike to be very hypocritical considering WMF has done nearly nothing so far to put its own house in order. How can you join a climate strike while holding 157,000 $ of the Wikimedia Endowment in ExxonMobil (1.1 % of 33 %)? We look ridiculous. I'm ashamed. Nemo 10:00, 20 September 2019 (UTC)

Nemo, WMF has made incremental changes over the years to set the stage for sustainable change including:
  • Implementing board resolutions for environmental impact
  • Completing a publically-released Foundation-wide assessment to analyze our sustainability strengths/weaknesses
  • Identifying actionable steps which will position us for meaningful change
  • Internally aligning and dedicating staff resources to work on the effort --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
Yes, I know all of this. It still doesn't remove the anti-climate action in the meanwhile, most notably the investment in fossil industries. Nemo 10:04, 3 October 2019 (UTC)
I see, the WMF has done a lot of analyzing and identifying since 2017. I mean, this kind of awareness is good, but time is running short on this issue. After all this time I still don't see any concrete plans for improvements, like selling holdings from businesses that are into fossil fuels or increasing the share of clean energy for Wikimedia servers. Some first steps or at least some announcements would be great. PassioEtDesiderium 21:59, 17 January 2020 (UTC)

"The campaign is similar in operation to the Digital Climate Strike that the Foundation was engaged with in September 2019", so of course WMF must repeat the same mistakes identical, without having addressed the problems of the previous time. Will WMF ever learn to learn from its mistakes? Nemo 20:57, 26 April 2020 (UTC)

This is... not helpful. Since last September, a lot has changed. –SJ talk  15:15, 27 April 2020 (UTC)

Please publish the total number of executive flights per monthEdit

Let's be honest, the CEO is famous for her high consumption of aircraft travel.[1] Just changing the behaviour of the CEO would make a dramatic difference to the damage the WMF is doing today to the global climate.

Please make a start this year, now, by being transparent and open about how many aircraft flights the WMF management team are consuming per month. Without these verifiable numbers being published, there is no real commitment, just nice phrases like "we will consider", "we will seek", not "we will act".

Thanks -- (talk) 13:30, 20 September 2019 (UTC)

, We will not be publishing the number of executive flights per month. The travel metrics shared in the assessment evaluated the entire Foundation and were not focused on specific individuals. Our commitment to transparency is evidential with our release of the assessment. --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
A couple of facts:
  1. No trend has been published. Metrics are meaningless without a trend.
  2. There has been no commitment to reduce international flights that the executive team are publicly known for. International flights are the most damaging single activity that WMF employees can do in terms of climate change.
  3. Summary estimates by consultants are neither verifiable measurements, nor a meaningful commitment to transparency.
I expected better, and still hope that the WMF management team might aim to do something less "political" when it comes to addressing the published WMF policies on being green.
Thanks for making a reply. -- (talk) 11:26, 1 October 2019 (UTC)

Gnom's initial questions about the reportEdit

Over the weekend, I had a first look at the report and tried to update the Sustainability Initiative page with the new data. Elitre also asked me to prepare a summary for the Wikimedia Space blog. As a result, I would like to ask the following questions:
Gnom, answers to your questions are as follows: --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)

  • On p. 72, how does the assessment define 'renewable energy' when talking about the electricity sources for the servers? In other words, does the definition include biofuels or not?
Yes, biofuels are included in the 'renewable energy' category. --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
  • On p. 74 et seq., how does the assessment interpret a server site such as 'esams' in Amsterdam that runs on a deregulated, mixed-source grid where the site operator has opted to only buy renewable energy? Is this server counted as '100% renewable' and why (not)?
Page 72 describes how the electricity emission factors were selected. Ideally, the best option is to receive actual invoices from each energy provider to calculate a site-specific emission factor. For this project, this wasn't the case. Also, as shown on page 28, "8 Data Centers were reported. eGrid emission factors were selected based upon publicly available data for each Data Center location. For Data Centers reporting 100% renewable grid-mixes – data was not available for their specific grid-mix. It may be that they’re actually purchasing RECs to offset their emissions. The server room at WMF headquarters is metered separately, data was provided for that meter by the chief building engineer of Post Montgomery." --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Because the sustainability assessment document does not use the WMF letterhead, I'm wondering how 'official' its contents are: Reading the status reports for the 'environmental sustainability' programme in the 2018 annual plan, I have the impression that pp. 37-66 of the sustainability assessment constitute the Wikimedia Foundation's 'sustainability roadmap'. Is this understanding correct, meaning is this an 'official' WMF roadmap, or rather just a proposal for one? I think there's already been some confusion about this point among some French Wikipedians.
The assessment and subsequently released summary were commissioned specifically by WMF for the purposes of establishing a baseline of our environment impact and position us for future improvements. The assessment does not use the WMF letterhead as it was created by Sustainable Sustainability Consulting (SSC). Pp 37-66 reflect the recommendations that SSC proposed for the Foundation; the official roadmap has not yet been created. --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Does the 2019 annual plan contain any language about sustainability? I am asking in part because of the 2017 board resolution and so that I can understand how work on this issue will continue.
The current 2019 annual plan does not contain language about sustainability. However, the following updates will be proposed in our upcoming quarterly foundation assessment to reflect the following actions we’ve committed to this fiscal year (FY19/20):
- Create a sustainability policy statement, definition, and context of what sustainability means.
- Develop a sustainability framework with roles and responsibilities, including operations, events, and technical infrastructure.
- Identify and track green key performance indicators. Create a reporting template and schedule for aggregating, validating and communication of results.--LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)

Thanks a lot! --Gnom (talk) Let's make Wikipedia green! 19:12, 22 September 2019 (UTC)

I've made the mistake. I was too much concentrate on the data, and not enough on the title of the slide! P.46 is clear that it is still a recommendation. Pyb (talk) 13:23, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
Pyb, can you please clarify if you have a question? We believe your response may have been to Gnom’s question regarding the official WMF roadmap. The official roadmap has not yet been created. --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)

Suggestion 10: communicationEdit

 
"Internal (Google Docs, Slack, etc.)"

I understand that some suggestions are canned responses prepared for organisations with values which differ drastically from the Wikimedia movement's, but just to be clear: it's not appropriate to recommend proprietary software venues for communication, such as Google Docs and Slack. Only free software is an option. FLOSS-Exchange shows what solutions the Wikimedia entities are using. Nemo 12:11, 3 October 2019 (UTC)

Focus on the missionEdit

Wikipedia's positive impact on environmental issues far out weighs its carbon footprint. To begin with, one might quantify its impact on the market for paper encyclopedias and other reference works: fewer trees cut down, less paper making, printing and distribution impacts. But far more important is Wikipedia impact in providing a source of fact based information on climate and other environmental issues, where public debate (at least in the U.S.) has been poisoned by highly politicized positions on both sides (it's a socialist plot on the right, we're all gonna die on the left). Rather than spending WikiMedia's limited resources on projects that will have at best an infinitesimal impact on the world's environment, I suggest the foundation redouble its effort on Wikipedia's core mission which can have a significant net effect.

Specifically, there are a huge number of articles in en:Category:Renewable energy by country, and its subcategories, along with their non-English counterparts. Many of these articles were written with great enthusiasm years ago and filled with data on the then current situation in their locale (down to individual states in the U.S.), but may no longer reflect what is happening now. Finding ways to encourage regular updates of these articles would be far more useful than micro-analyzing Wikimedia's utility bills. Wikimedia might, for example, develop grants to encourage university programs in environmental science to adopt articles dealing with their geographic area, and update them whenever new statistics are published. Another possibility would be to work with Wikidata to develop standard templates for environmental data that could be transcluded in articles in different languages. I'm sure there are lots of other possibilities.

The potential impact of better coverage of environmental issues on Wikipedia would exceed the impact of marginal changes in Wikipedia's office practices by orders of magnitude.--ArnoldReinhold (talk) 17:48, 3 October 2019 (UTC)

Organizational support for climate related contentEdit

Climate related articles are very badly out of date.

Most of the serious, substantive content I'm now seeing added to climate related articles appears to come from WikiEd classes. (This is based on doing assessment, cleanup, and gnoming for WP Environment, Climate change, Soil, and Agriculture).

Editathons, while helpful, are not sufficient for generating more complex content that requires informed individuals.

WikiEd focus neededEdit

A WikiEd focus on climate-related articles is the most likely way to ensure high quality, current content about climate.

Understanding climate impact requires a broad approach, that extends beyond the science and policy of climate/envronment/ecology. Agriculture and human migration are also important areas of coverage.

Recommendation for Wikipedians in ResidenceEdit

  • 2 WIR focused on climate change/environment/ecology

Goal-- Work with WikiEd, scientific and policy organizations to update content, add citations. In addition to updating outdated information, we need survey articles for climate change / mitigation / adaptation at the country, state, and provincial levels.

  • 2 WIR focused on agriculture

Goal-- Work with WikiEd, agricultural, scientific and policy organizations to update content, add citations. Create overview articles of agriculture at the state and province level. Add articles for plant species and crops useful in carbon mitigation. Add information to livestock articles about carbon mitigation techniques. Partner with organizations working on soil health and conservation to improve these articles.

  • 2 WIR focused on displaced persons and humanitarian aid

Goal-- Work with WikiEd, NGO, government, and policy organizations to update content and add citations. Create and update overview articles for displaced persons in each country. Create and update articles to provide full coverage of all the world's refugee camps. Create and update articles about humanitarian aid efforts worldwide, and add this information to cities, towns, and provinces, especially in Africa.

Access to information resourcesEdit

  • Partnerships with universities and information vendors are necessary in order to access the factual content in this area. This can be WikiEd, Wikipedia Library.
  • Editathons can provide some on-site access to institutional content, and enable editors to meet each other, but aren't a substitute for WikiEd and Wikipedia Library.
  • Significant journal articles and e-books are often behind paywalls. Scientific books on climate can be very expensive. High quality climate articles will not write themselves without institutional support.

Governmental and non-governmental organizationsEdit

In some areas, such as agriculture and sanitation, the only survey information available will be from government agencies, or from organizations like the World Bank and development agencies.

Working with these organizations to create content and encourage release of information into the public domain may be necessary.

Conclusion - GLAM a possible modelEdit

Just as Wiki is expanding into coordinated efforts in the GLAM content area, similar efforts will be needed to ensure quality content in climate-related content. The GLAM efforts may have some useful models for how to proceed with climate content.

Thank you for your consideration! Oliveleaf4 (talk) 15:34, 6 October 2019 (UTC)

Hotel staysEdit

Thanks for the Signpost article. I'm curious at the ratio between 26% air travel and 11% hotel stays. My understanding was that air travel, especially if any of it is long haul business class, is very very carbon intensive, hotels, usually not so much, so I'm surprised that the hotel proportion is that large in comparison. Especially as many of those hotel stays were presumably short... Is that 11% figure correct? Could it be reduced by choosing more eco friendly hotels/venues? Could we reduce the carbon footprint of Wikimania by comparing the carbon footprint of different location options? (Disclosure: I have been to several Wikimanias). WereSpielChequers (talk) 17:43, 7 October 2019 (UTC)

Response to feedback shared on this page and SignpostEdit

Hello All,
I’m making a specific point to tag everyone that has chimed in regarding the topic of Sustainability either on this talk page or the 2019-09-30 Signpost article. Gnom, Nemo, Victorgrigas, , Pyb, ArnoldReinhold, Oliveleaf4, WereSpielChequers, Maury Markowitz, Bri.public, Sophivorus, 73.222.1.26, Kudpung กุดผึ้ง, Carrite, agr, Clayoquot, ©Geni, Qwirkle

I get it. You may be frustrated, angry, irritated, disappointed, or generally just feeling let down by the Foundation as it relates to Sustainability (and you may feel the same way about other initiatives we either are/have/or will be working on...but I’ll stick to the topic at hand). There are commitments we’ve made in the past that we’ve dropped the ball on - including easily achievable ones like including sustainability in this fiscal year’s annual plan. Yes. That was a miss. And one that I will correct in our upcoming quarterly review of the Foundation.

You may also feel that the release of the Foundation’s sustainability assessment was a step in the right direction, but want to see more action. I cannot stress enough that the constructive feedback you’re sharing is not falling on deaf ears. So I want to plainly, and in “non-political speak”, address the points that have been shared.

To my understanding, never in the history of the Foundation have we directly assigned a department the responsibility of defining foundation-wide sustainability baselines and practices to reduce our CO2 emissions...until literally a month ago. (Again, yes, you may be thinking, “Really? That’s unacceptable!”...but bear with me.) That responsibility now sits squarely on the shoulders of our Operations department working in tandem with staff across other departments that are all deeply committed to sustainability.

Our team working on this is not a large one (in fact right now, we’re a team of two - myself and m:User:DTankersley (WMF)), and while we can’t make sweeping decisions to instantly resolve this issue, e.g. build a 100% green data center, or purchase enough credits to offset our entire CO2 output, or stop any staff member from flying ever again - we can commit to establishing a standard: “drawing a line in the sand” to define baselines, sharing more information when available and, making specific recommendations for the Foundation to take action on. Also, in the spirit of transparency, this is not our only job; both Deb and I have other responsibilities. Just like you, we have competing priorities day to day that we have to juggle. This means I’m setting the expectation up front - we won’t be able to 24x7 monitor this page and immediately respond to every single comment at a moment’s notice. But, we can take a snapshot of where we stand right now, and commit to providing responses by a specific date.

So as I read through the commentary, here is what I see that you are requesting us to do, all with the intent of reducing the Foundation’s CO2 output:

  • Provide exact output figures, for example kWh/m²-y to provide more information about our electricity use
  • Shift some of our endowment investments to holdings that do not have sustainable conflict
  • Publish the total number of executive flights per month
  • Ensure when we’re making software recommendations that we are also making best efforts to align with the Movement’s standard of utilizing free and open software
  • Encourage more contributions and grooming/editing of articles in the Renewable Energy category
  • Make a point to not avoid questions, and respond in a timely manner
  • Provide a calculation of how much net CO2 output is produced, or prevented, by the Foundation’s distributed staff model
  • Provide a trending report of our CO2 output on a regular basis
  • Publish an environmental impact statement in annual plans going forward
  • Offer remote presentations at Wikimania
  • Provide clarification on the travel metrics shared in the sustainability assessment

Here is our commitment to the Community: We will explore the requests that you have put forth and commit to following up with responses, and justification if needed, by December 13th. Why am I picking a date out that far into the future? Because one of the items we’re actively working through is bringing a sustainability consultant onboard to work through these items with the Foundation, and consultancies require both financial and legal sign-offs which are not overnight processes. Furthermore, we need time to collect information and assess what is actually possible to accomplish.

But, does all this mean that you will be happy, pleased, satisfied with every response we give you? Likely not. But as with any discourse and discussion, there are points that can be agreed upon, eg. we need to take swift action on sustainability. And there are points that can be debated upon, eg. what that swift action exactly looks like.

My last point is this - I understand that this is a hot button topic given the critical nature. But that does not, and will not ever, excuse rudely attacking Deb or myself. To suggest that we should personally feel embarrassed, ashamed, or are attempting to skirt the issue is misguided, ineffective, and unnecessary. We want to be in dialogue with you and do our absolute best to solve this problem; attacking us isn’t the way to go about it.

Again, I thank you for all of the constructive requests that you have put forth. And you will hear from us again on December 13th, at which time we’ll be able to resume practical conversation on the topic of the Foundation and Sustainability on this page.

Lydia --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 17:07, 10 October 2019 (UTC)

Thanks Lydia - a very sensible response, particularly given that some of the comments directed your way on the Signpost article were downright unacceptable. It'd be great to see what the WMF can do more of in this area.
One concrete area where there's probably a quick win in reducing emissions, albeit marginally, is probably in travel booking. My experience (admittedly, based on only one occasion) is that if you try to book public transport rather than use the WMF's travel agency is that you get offered reimbursement up to a $ amount benchmarked against the lower end of the flight cost range. This seems fair enough, but trains are often slightly more expensive than the cheapest flights (though less expensive when the costs of getting to and from airports is taken into account, which the process doesn't take account of). Maybe that process could be a bit more flexible to encourage more use of public transport? Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 13:35, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Thank you for your response.
  • Would like to point out that "Flight shaming" is not something personal, it's a cultural strategy for climate action especially suitable for the UK and Europe; somewhat less so in thinly populated or remote areas.
  • Improving articles on "renewable energy" or not flying isn't enough.
  • The comprehensive response on climate is in Drawdown. It describes 100 types of solutions that are most effective, which include agriculture and empowering women and girls.
  • We need grant money and resources for the community to develop content related to the 100 solutions in Drawdown.
  • Creating high-quality content on climate using "Drawdown" as an initial guide requires a comprehensive organizational approach, as does high-quality content creation in the more general sustainability issues like circular economy, toxics, pollution prevention and remediation, agriculture, disarmament, refugee flows, and conflict resolution.
  • Grants for photo documentation of the environmental movement, and environmentally significant facilities, processes, and landscapes would be an additional way beyond WIR and GLAM-type partnerships to fill coverage gaps.
  • Two employees working part time could hire a consultant to make recommendations for a "green team" to improve sustainability in WMF operations, especially the servers. However, it will take more staff time and effort for comprehensive content improvement, and for full virtual access to meetings.
  • I hope you'll be getting the necessary support. Oliveleaf4 (talk) 12:09, 16 October 2019 (UTC)

WMF Sustainability Impact Statement - December 13, 2019Edit

Hello All,

Thank you for your patience as we work through our various Sustainability deliverables.

As part of these deliverables, we would like to share our Sustainability Impact Statement with you. This document will be updated annually and shares our:

  • Mission statement - Affirming our commitment to reducing the carbon impact of our activities on the environment
  • Framework - Ensuring a green focus will inform our work and decisions, and reflects our passion for being resource-considerate
  • Strategic Roadmap - Outlining the deliverables we will produce
  • Metrics - Remaining transparent in sharing the details of our carbon footprint and allowing us to improve monitoring of our footprint

Additionally, we’d like to share our next steps:

  • Hosting a session at our internal annual Foundation All Hands meeting in late January 2020 to share impact statement components with staff and solicit project ideas
  • Engaging staff and community members to commence work on various Sustainability projects and efforts

We will update this talk page on a quarterly cadence; and in March, we will share the output from All Hands, and begin soliciting for staff and volunteers to participate in our Sustainability initiatives.

Thanks and Happy Holidays!

Lydia and Deb

For those that have not got around to reading through the PDF, it says that the WMF have not set down any commitment to actually do anything. They might eventually report on some summary numbers, but this definitely will not include how many times the WMF executive team fly around the planet each year, nor does it make any commitment of any other kind like helping employees take public transport rather than drive their own cars, or avoid flying unnecessarily. Not impressive. -- (talk) 22:30, 17 January 2020 (UTC)
Hi Lydia and Deb, thank you for this update! I'll respond with a few comments and follow-up questions:
  • With the new mission statement very much drawing on the 2017 board resolution, should we not try to move towards a further and more concrete commitment in terms of environmental sustainability? I am thinking of for-profit companies such as Microsoft that are now even committing to becoming carbon-negative and setting out clear timeframes.
  • In the 'operations' section of the strategic roadmap, you wrote that we are planning to 'minimize our carbon footprint' by 'identify[ing] carbon-reduction opportunities'. Can we really not go beyond that and commit to something tangible?
  • As you can imagine, I am very excited about the idea of a 'sustainability consortium' consisting of WMF staff and community members as proposed in the mission statement. Similarly, the Wikimedians for Sustainable Development will be interested in how the Wikimedia Foundation can 'support community efforts in the sustainability space', as proposed in the 'engagement section' of the strategic roadmap. When will these projects start, and how can we be a part in them?
  • What do you mean by 'personal investment' in the 'culture' section of the strategic roadmap?
  • Looking at the last point in the 'engagement' section of the strategic roadmap, shouldn't we share our lessons learned beyond just the community?
  • Finally, if you don't mind, I think I'll create a wiki version of the impact statement from the PDF.
Thanks, --Gnom (talk) Let's make Wikipedia green! 23:53, 18 January 2020 (UTC)
Thanks, Gnom, for this response! -- Daniel Mietchen (talk) 05:51, 19 January 2020 (UTC)

Hello Gnom and thank you for reading the PDF. Responses to your points are as follows:

  • Concrete commitment/Identifying carbon-reduction opportunities: We are in the midst of annual planning for our next fiscal year in which we will be proposing to make resource investments in carbon neutrality. The annual plan will be released for community consultation and feedback in late May/early June. We will also be working on expanding virtual events participation to reduce flight volume.
  • Sustainability Consortium participation: We will be kicking off the Consortium internally in March and one of our deliverables is clearly defining how we will engage with the community. We also support the idea of sharing and coordinating environmental sustainability efforts across Wikimedia affiliates. More information will be coming on this in April.
  • Personal investment: This point is affirming our commitment to recommending eco-conscious options. For example we host a monthly e-Waste pick up program that encourages staff to bring old electronics to the office; we then have the devices picked up by a vendor that helps prevent electronic waste from expanding our footprint by repairing or recycling within 150 miles of San Francisco.
  • Sharing lessons learned: By default we share with the world anytime we post on Meta! But as our Consortium work gets underway, there may be opportunities to share information more broadly beyond our sites.
  • Wiki version of impact statement: No issues with that, please proceed.

Thanks, Lydia and Deb 20 February 2020

Hi, I just wikified the impact statement on the page. --Gnom (talk) 21:27, 22 March 2020 (UTC)

New annual reports and blog post for calendar year 2019Edit

Hi all,

We've just published a few documents that might be of interest! Our annual reports for carbon footprint and impact statement as well as a new blog post on Diff.

Enjoy!

deb (talk) 18:57, 13 August 2020 (UTC)

Thank you for the report. I found it easier to understand than the first report. Page 37, maybe write something like train/BART. I had to find the meaning of this acronym. Pyb (talk) 19:33, 14 August 2020 (UTC)
We appreciate the feedback Pyb! We spent a great deal of time reading (and re-reading) the report for clarity and concision.--LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 21:06, 16 August 2020 (UTC)
Hi Deb and Lydia, thank you for this update! As you can imagine, I tried taking a closer look at the reports to see where we stand and where we are going. Please see my comments below.
  • I really appreciate the straightforward style of the blog post. It think it nicely avoids using 'greenwashed' language while at the same time demonstrating a strong commitment to reducing our carbon footprint.
 
Can you further explain the numbers on the far right?
  • Two questions concerning the servers, which have been my main focus for a long time now:
    • The report states great improvements for the eqiad, ulsfo, eqsin, eqord, and eqdfw sites. Can you explain our methodology here? Disregarding the reduction in energy consumption (which is impressive and itself worth looking into), are the significant reductions in carbon emissions caused by changes in the electricity grid for those locations (which couldn't have changed that quickly, most notably not for the eqiad and eqsin locations), or are the providers now specifically buying green energy from their respective electricity providers (which can't be the case for the eqsin location, as the report clearly explains on p. 31), or are the providers buying certificates for their emissions? If the latter, what would the numbers look like if we disregarded these certificates? Do we have a policy regarding the use of emission certificates as a carbon mitigation strategy, and if not, can we develop one? I am concerned that we might be in danger of 'drinking the emission certificate Kool-Aid' that our vendors are serving us.
    • The report also states that the carbon footprint of the esams server site was reduced by a whopping 100% from 2018 to 2019. In my own calculations, the esams server site has always been '100% green' because the provider, IronMountain, has always stated that it was using 100% green energy for its Amsterdam location. The 2018 report disregarded this fact and just used the numbers for the general Dutch electricity grid. Did we change our methodology in this regard or how can this change in our numbers be explained? (Please let me know if I should rephrase this question as it is a bit complicated. Also, I am aware that the esams server site is only a very small factor in our overall carbon footprint.)
 
Are there any news about the possibility for interested community members to join the WMF Sustainability Consortium as announced last year?
  • When will it be possible for interested community members to join the Sustainability Consortium? I am asking because I am looking for a forum to discuss the following:
    • What is our position on emission certificates? (see above)
    • How can we align the WMF 'strategic sustainability roadmap' with the three goals set by Sustainability Initiative? Do you agree that the three goals should be a priority? Do you think it is possible to actively work towards achieving them? If not, why not? More specifically:
      • The report states that 'efforts are underway to design remote event participation guidelines for internal WMF activities and evaluate for broader community implementation'. Can we talk about when we can make remote participation at Wikimania a real possibility, or if not, why not? What else can be done to significantly reduce the number of flights taken?
      • The report also states that 'presssure from investors and customers to improve the climate change profiles of data centers has created a swell of momentum.' When and how will we (significantly) contribute to this pressure (other than the letters we sent back in 2017), considering that such pressure from customers is working, or if not, why not?
      • The report is quiet on the issue of a sustainable investment policy for the Wikimedia Endowment. When can we develop one? If not, why not?
  • Over the next few days, I will try to incorporate the new information into the Sustainability page. Let me know if you have any comments in that regard.
Thank you again! Kind regards, --Gnom (talk) 07:42, 26 August 2020 (UTC)
I second all of Gnom's questions and have a few others:
  • It states "Developed a sustainability roadmap that identified specific actions to pursue in 2019-2021" but then says "The following chart highlights the key achievements completed and currently underway." Where is the rest of the roadmap? Even accounting for the listed priorities of 2020, 2021 seems to be missing.
  • The report talks about environmental sustainability, but the only things that seems to be measured is CO2. Obviously an organization of this size have large impact in other areas as well (like the metals in hardware). How are these being measured and what steps are taken to limit that impact?
Hello Ainali, thanks for the questions!
  • The impact statement report typically looks back at the year prior and is more general with the upcoming roadmap, as stated on 5. We have developed a roadmap of projects and subjects to take on in FY20/21 and have published it today. Please note that the Wikipedian in Residence work is an ambitious goal for this year.
  • The Foundation’s sustainability focus is on our carbon emissions associated with our buildings and facilities, travel and commuting impacts, and data servers. As we are largely an internet driven organization, we haven’t looked into other areas to investigate and measure, such as metals in hardware in our buildings.
We're glad that these documents are helpful! deb (talk) 20:19, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
@DTankersley (WMF): I'm sorry I wasn't clear enough. I wasn't referring to metals in buildings. I was referring to the kind of rare metals in computer hardware, including mobile phones, tablets and servers. Since the WMF have employees that all use at least one, probably more, of these devices there is probably a high discard rate just due to regular wear, tear and accidents. Add to that upgrades for performance. These have a considerable impact on the environment and how they are dealt with matters a lot. Ainali talkcontributions 20:44, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
@Ainali: Ahh, I see now. That sounds like a great topic to discuss in our upcoming community conversations! :) I know lots of folks recycle (turn in for a refund) when they purchase a new device. I'm not entirely sure what the companies that receive those devices do with them, however. Certainly something that we can survey folks about and see if there are next steps that we can take. deb (talk) 21:26, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
I also want to chime in that creating these documents is a really good step in the right direction. Thanks, Ainali talkcontributions 20:56, 27 August 2020 (UTC)
Hi Gnom, I'll do a bit of a mashup of your questions and our answers below:
  • Q: The report states great improvements for the eqiad, ulsfo, eqsin, eqord, and eqdfw sites. Can you explain our methodology here?
  • A: On slide 5, of our carbon footprint report, we outlined the methodology for our improvements in the data centers (copied here): In the last year, data center providers have increased the level of transparency of their environmental metrics, allowing us to more accurately assess their environmental performance. Data center providers have also ramped up their use of renewable energy (through renewable energy project as well as purchased renewable energy credits (RECs), further decarbonizing their energy use. Both changes allowed us to allocate a lower emissions factor to the electricity used at WMF data center and server locations for 2019. For a bit more background, all data centers are dependent on two main things: grid electricity and water. Data centers are working towards using more renewable energy sources in their electricity supply mixes, as they are available. If these options are not available, the data centers have been purchasing Renewable Energy Certificate (RECs) as an interim step moving towards decarbonization. In water-stressed regions, such as in Texas for example, they will prioritize water-consumption mitigation first and then move towards decarbonization.
  • Q: Disregarding the reduction in energy consumption (which is impressive and itself worth looking into), are the significant reductions in carbon emissions caused by changes in the electricity grid for those locations (which couldn't have changed that quickly, most notably not for the eqiad and eqsin locations),
  • A: We believe this reduction is because more data centers are actively looking for ways to lower their carbon footprint. However, not all data centers are fully transparent about reporting on this effort, so some of our information is estimated from publicly available information from the hosting companies, where available. Where PUE was not available, we estimated based upon ‘best in class’ data (as noted on page 7).Some of the data centers that had dramatic reductions are also part of the most insignificant usage overall (page 6)
  • Q: or are the providers now specifically buying green energy from their respective electricity providers (which can't be the case for the eqsin location, as the report clearly explains on p. 31), or are the providers buying certificates for their emissions? If the latter, what would the numbers look like if we disregarded these certificates?
  • A: Data centers, all over the world, are purchasing RECs in their transition to become as decarbonized as possible. This is a stepping stone for them to pursue options currently available in their regions to mitigate their own carbon footprint, however, some electricity suppliers do not offer a "green purchasing option." Data centers are heavily dependent upon their local electricity supply-mixes and more often, electricity suppliers are making public commitments to ‘go green’, such as APS and others. Since SASB has defined both data security and decarbonization KPIs, data centers are using existing tools that are readily available now to take actions toward decarbonization.
  • Q: The report also states that the carbon footprint of the esams server site was reduced by a whopping 100% from 2018 to 2019. In my own calculations, the esams server site has always been '100% green' because the provider, IronMountain, has always stated that it was using 100% green energy for its Amsterdam location. The 2018 report disregarded this fact and just used the numbers for the general Dutch electricity grid. Did we change our methodology in this regard or how can this change in our numbers be explained?
  • A: Iron Mountain (esams) had made earlier claims that were not supported by actual data in the report. When reporting GHG emissions the rule-of-thumb (unless the data source provides explicit data from the energy-grid) is to go with the most conservative assumption for initial analysis and move forward from there. As the 2018 report was the first carbon footprint for the Foundation, it's critical to define what functional areas are material to the overall footprint to drive prioritization of carbon mitigation efforts.
  • Q: When will it be possible for interested community members to join the Sustainability Consortium?
  • A: We’re glad to hear that this is still of interest! Our first year of the Sustainability Consortium was focused on establishing organization on the Foundation projects we wanted to do in FY2019/20. For this fiscal year, we’d like to host meetings with interested community members to have structured conversations about sustainability and some of the topics that have been raised (for example, the ones in your earlier post - emission certificates, event participation, etc). We’re hoping to have these conversations once a quarter, with the first one in September 2020. Once we’ve decided on a topic and a date, we’ll post on Meta.
  • Q: (listing of various topics to discuss)
  • A: Those topics are all great things to discuss and come to a common understanding of the issues and potential solutions. Regarding the Wikimedia Endowment, we reached out to our internal team and they updated the sustainability ratings of the endowment investments along with a link to a new investment policy statement from the Tides Foundation.
Thanks for the thoughtful questions!
deb (talk) 20:07, 3 September 2020 (UTC) and Lydia
@DTankersley (WMF): Where can we find more information about these quarterly meetings and especially the one that is to take place this month? -- Daniel Mietchen (talk) 19:44, 11 September 2020 (UTC)
@Daniel Mietchen:I've just posted the links to the Climate Justice Editathon happening on Sept 18, 2020 and the Sustainability Community Roundtable meeting (also happening on Sept 18, 2020). We're looking forward to seeing you there! :) deb (talk) 20:21, 11 September 2020 (UTC)

Sustainability Community Roundtable DiscussionsEdit

Date and time

September 18, 2020 at 0800 PT / 1500 UTC

Topic

What is our position on emission certificates?

Background

  • The Wikimedia Foundation does not operate its own data centers to run Wikipedia and her sister projects, but relies on third-party colocation providers that have global interconnection.
  • At this time, the Wikimedia Foundation is not pursuing switching to data center providers that could be using more renewable energy for their operations.
  • Air travel is the biggest part of the Wikimedia Foundation's carbon footprint.
  • Carbon credits, also called emission certificates, is a generic term for any tradable certificate or permit representing the right to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide or the equivalent amount of a different greenhouse gas (tCO2e).

Questions that we will discuss

  • Should the Wikimedia Foundation's annual carbon footprint calculations disregard emissions that are 'compensated' by its vendors through carbon credits (or emission certificates)?
  • Should the Wikimedia Foundation commit to 'offsetting' its carbon footprint by buying emission certificates? If yes, should this option be viewed and clearly communicated as an 'intermediary solution' toward reducing its carbon footprint?

Meeting information

  • We will meet for 45 minutes starting at 0800 PT / 1500 UTC on September 18, 2020, using zoom
    • Alternatively a youtube live stream has been set up here.
  • Notes will be taken (etherpad)
  • Please introduce yourself when speaking and if you represent an organization, eg. name, affiliation, and position
  • We will be using the Friendly Space policy for conduct.

Why this meeting?

Our first year after forming the Wikimedia Foundation Sustainability Consortium, was focused on establishing organization on the Foundation projects that we wanted to do in FY2019/20. For this fiscal year, we would like to host meetings with interested community members to have structured conversations on some of the topics that have been raised on the various talk pages around sustainability. We want to do these conversations quarterly and this meeting will be the first — we would love to have everyone that is interested to join in!

deb (talk) 20:45, 11 September 2020 (UTC)

Will there be a free-software-friendly avenue of access? Nemo 14:30, 15 September 2020 (UTC)
@Nemo bis: Hi Nemo, thanks for the suggestion - we have added in a youtube live stream of the meeting from zoom. It does have a slight lag, I believe it's about 30 seconds and, if you watch the live stream, you can only comment in youtube. Just as those people that will be part of the zoom call, they can only comment in zoom during the call. We will also have the etherpad where notes will be taken and shared out later. deb (talk) 22:31, 15 September 2020 (UTC)

September 18, 2020 -- Climate Justice Edit-a-thonEdit

Edit, learn and help us identify climate justice topics on Wikipedia

Join the Editathon by adding your user account to the Programs and Events Dashboard

Need support during the editathon? Ask questions at the Wikimedians for Sustainable Development Telegram channel.

Actions Keep an eye on the actions section for actions during this editathon. deb (talk) 20:46, 11 September 2020 (UTC)

Return to "Sustainability" page.