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Energy Expert:Cloud Product Carbon Footprint

Last Updated:Apr 07, 2024

Here is an introduction to the carbon footprint accounting method and accounting scope of Alibaba Cloud products.

What is Carbon Footprint

Carbon footprint refers to the collection of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions directly or indirectly generated by a certain accounting entity (such as a country, enterprise, individual or product, etc.) through various production activities. GHGs include carbon dioxide (CO₂), methane (CH₄), nitrous oxide (N₂O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF₆) and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), etc.

Large-scale emissions of GHGs such as CO₂ can cause climate change. The carbon footprint can measure the impact of human activities on the environment to establish a baseline for individuals and other entities to achieve emission reductions. When calculating various types of GHG emissions within the industry, they are usually converted into CO₂ equivalents.

The carbon footprint of cloud products refers to the GHGs (e.g., CO₂) emissions indirectly caused by enterprises or individuals when using cloud services. The carbon emissions generated by the use of the cloud resource mainly come from various types of energy consumed during the operation of the internet data center (IDC), such as the electricity consumption. The carbon emission data provided by Alibaba Cloud will help you understand the impact of cloud workloads on the surrounding environment, and provide support for enterprise carbon inventory and carbon reduction actions.

How to View My Cloud Product Carbon Footprint

User can view the carbon footprint of my cloud products on the Alibaba Cloud console homepage. For the first visit, the "Carbon Footprint" card needs to be manually added.

Operation Steps

  1. Log in to the Alibaba Cloud console and click on the "Customize" button in the top right corner of the console.


  1. In the left panel module list, find "Cloud Product Carbon Footprint", click on the "+" sign, and click on the "Save" button in the top right corner of the page.


  1. The cloud product carbon footprint card can be viewed on the right side of the console.


Authorizing RAM Users to View

By default, Cloud Product Carbon Footprint can only be viewed by the Main account (Alibaba Cloud account). If RAM users need to be authorized to view it, the Main account can add the system policy permission "AliyunCarbonFootprintFullAccess" for RAM users in the access control.

Carbon Footprint of Multiple Accounts

If an enterprise needs to aggregate and calculate the carbon footprint data of multiple Alibaba Cloud accounts, you can enable the multi-account management feature in the Cloud Product Carbon Footprint. Before enabling multi-account management, make sure that your account has activated the Resource Directory feature to achieve multi-level account relationship management. Instructions on how to activate the Resource Directory can be found in the help documentation: Resource Directory.

The management account of the resource directory can delegate other Alibaba Cloud accounts as administrators for the cloud product carbon footprint. The delegation operation can be viewed in the help document: Manage a delegated administrator account.

If you no longer need to aggregate the carbon footprint data of multiple accounts, you can disable the multi-account management feature in the Cloud Product Carbon Footprint. After disabling multi-account management, it will revert to only calculating the carbon footprint data of the currently logged-in account.

Carbon Footprint Accounting Method

The carbon emission data generated by the use of cloud services are gradually calculated and separated according to the three levels of IDCs, cloud products, and cloud accounts. The Alibaba Cloud infrastructure operation management team conducts carbon inventory of data centers, calculates carbon emissions, and further divides them into cloud products based on regions and availability zones. Then the corresponding carbon emissions are calculated according to the actual amount of cloud resources used by tenants. Carbon emission data are provided in users' cloud accounts.

Carbon Footprint Accounting Scope

The carbon emission accounting of Alibaba Cloud products and IDCs follows the specifications of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP). Carbon accounting scopes refer to GHG Protocol: Corporate Accounting and Reporting Guidelines, GHG Protocol: Corporate Value Chain Accounting and Reporting Standards, ISO14064-3:2019 Guidelines for the Verification and Inventory of GHG Statements and many other industries standard or specification. The GHGP divides GHG emissions into three scopes:

  • Scope 1: Direct emissions from emissions sources owned or controlled by the company.

  • Scope 2: Indirect emissions from the production of outsourced electricity, steam, heating or cooling by the company.

  • Scope 3: All other indirect emissions generated in the enterprise value chain.

The carbon accounting scope of Alibaba Cloud products and IDCs includes emissions from direct operations in Scope 1, emissions from purchased electricity production in Scope 2, and indirect emissions from the leased computer rooms in Scope 3. All the accounting processes follow the GHG emissions inventory quality control procedures of China Environment United Certification Center (CEC) and ISO14064-3 standard requirements. The accounting results have been verified and certified by Bureau Veritas (Beijing) Co., Ltd. In July 2023, Alibaba Cloud's product carbon footprint became the first enterprise in China to pass the evaluation of carbon accounting services for cloud services.

Cloud Product Carbon Footprint Declaration

The user's carbon emission data is calculated based on the amount of Alibaba Cloud resources used. Our product will comprehensively consider multiple factors such as Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of IDCs in different countries or regions, resource sales, green power usage ratio, technical carbon reduction measures and other factors when calculating user carbon emission data of cloud products. Please notice that it is possible for carbon emission data to be different between regions or months.

The carbon footprint of cloud products covers multiple cloud products including computing, storage, network, database, CDN, etc. We will also launch the other cloud products' carbon footprint in the near future. Besides, affected by the electricity billing cycle of upstream power supply companies, there is a 2-month delay in the release of cloud product carbon emission data. For example, the user's carbon emission data in January 2022 will be provided in March.