Wirelive: Episode #12

'Sustainability in the cloud and tech space'

Show Notes:

BITE Author | James Cannings, MSQ (creativebrief.com)

MSQ celebrates Earth Day with chief sustainability officer | MAA (moreaboutadvertising.com)

Home | MSQ Partners

MSQ | Ecologi

The UK's Most Recommended Digital Partner | MMT Digital

The future of cloud management is here. (pax8.com)

Cloud Hosting & Consultancy for forward-thinking businesses | Wirehive

Net Carbon Negative

Home | BIMA

The Green Pages (bima.co.uk)

An Inconvenient Truth (2006) Official Trailer

Scope 1 and Scope 2 Inventory Guidance | EPA Center for Corporate Climate Leadership | US EPA

Briefing: What are Scope 3 emissions? | The Carbon Trust

Tree Planting and Carbon Offsetting | Ecologi

The Green Pages (bima.co.uk)

Why your internet habits are not as clean as you think

https://www.websitecarbon.com/

https://withcabin.com/

Performance – environmental sustainability | National Grid Group

Sustainability in the Cloud (aboutamazon.com)

Azure sustainability –Sustainable technologies | Microsoft Azure

Microsoft finds underwater datacenters are reliable, practical and use energy sustainably | Innovation Stories

Why Microsoft Has Underwater Data Centers - YouTube

SpaceX

Inside Bill's Brain: Decoding Bill Gates - Wikipedia

https://www.terrapower.com/

Tree Planting and Carbon Offsetting | Ecologi

Live Transcription:

Robert Belgrave

Hello, everybody and welcome to the 12th Wirelive and today we are going to be talking all things sustainability. What on earth does sustainability mean in the world of cloud and technology?

 

and everything in between and beyond? Is it sunk data centers. Is it frantically replanting trees?

 

Well, hopefully our guest James Cannings will help us figure all that out. Welcome to the stream. James, how you doing? I'm very good. Rob. It's lovely to be here. Very excited to be here. And let's hope we can kind of keep it pithy and within 45 minutes to a hugely passionate about this, but we'll, we'll try and keep it condensed. If we can, yeah, we'll do our best. James and I are not known for brevity, it has to be said,

 

particularly on subjects like this one. So James, for our listeners who might not know you, would you mind just giving us a brief introduction to you and your kind of professional journey to this point,

 

James Cannings

I should give an introduction whether it will be brief or not, I don't know. Because some relevant stuff. So um, Hello, everybody. I'm James, and I am the chief Sustainability Officer, Officer of M sq. sq, are a global Digital Marketing Group 150 people. I am also, I still wear a couple of hats to the co founder of one of the agencies within miscues and the co founder Ren, MT digital. And I think like a lot of Chief sustainability officers because he is sort of the Wild West out there I am, my background is as a computer scientist, and as an entrepreneur and founder of mmt, a digital agency.

 

But in in 2019, which is which was our 20th anniversary.

 

It was the point that I and Ben, my co founder kind of wanted to do more. And I sort of accidentally at that point, I think, started to become an expert in in carbon footprint modeling and reduction strategies. I like lots of people out there, you know, wanted to model and understand what our carbon footprint was just in, you know, to start doing the right thing as a business. I know, we'll get into the sort of the technology and the digital side and the clouds and stuff. But I think, you know, the starting point for lots of businesses, if you look at that is to understand your own footprint, have your own reduction strategies in place. Now. I've just found it incredibly hard. I you know, I didn't know what scope one, scope two scope three was, I didn't know I found all these really quite rubbish calculators and modeling tools, and it was all very bitty and ended up developing my own

 

tools and processes. Or if people are interested in that as a starting point, I have a website, net carbon negative. co. uk where were those tools, simple spreadsheets can be downloaded. If anyone watching is a Beemer member, I'm also the co chair of the bema sustainability Council and train about 60 companies a year there's a carbon negative course that you can you can sign up for. So yeah, went on a bit of a journey and then took mmt carbon negative in 2019. And then we rolled that modeling out right across Enescu last year, and mF q became a carbon negative or climate positive, you know, organization. And we can get into a bit more of that. I'm sure in a sec. The other side of it, I think with with the Beamer sustainability Council was launching earlier this year, a site called the green pages, which we'll chat about Anabasis, that's a great resource, which is a resource to help any digital team. Whether you're, you know, a designer or a developer and architect and engineer and infrastructure person or content media person on how to build, measure and build lower carbon digital platforms. The internet has a larger carbon footprint than the airline industry. And so there's a real opportunity to try although the profile of it is very, very different, but there's a real opportunity to significantly reduce that. So long introduction, Chief Sustainability Officer, two areas I'd love to talk about, and that hopefully interest one is about being a sustainable business, whether you're a digital agency, or whatever you are, how you do that, what you do, how you get started, all that sort of stuff. And then the other side is part of that thing about spheres of influence, which is a digital agency is not about reducing our footprint, but but the footprint of our clients by by building lower carbon platforms for them and why that might be important. They get told you wouldn't be a short introduction, but

 

Robert Belgrave

maybe I mean by asking them scenarios which seemed punchy.

 

Yeah, that is extremely short. But to just one more sort of paragraph as opposed to added So previously running mmt which I think was 20 years is that right? It certainly was a was a was

 

James Cannings

Yeah, see the mmt brand you know, miscue is a is a collection is a group of agencies. mmt still very much going up near nearly 200 people now it's going from strength to strength and the size and scale of businesses what's enabled me to to step away important And do this role for Ms. Q, which is, which is

 

Robert Belgrave

lovely. And, and so and so there we go since that James is a successful founder and was previously leading DMT business, you know, a top quality design agency that's gone through all the evolutions that businesses like that have over the last 20 years and you know, to, frankly, to remain trading off 20 years is a, you know, a feat to, to be applauded as an agency and to be doing so successfully is even more impressive. So, and, and, you know, as amazing as you say that that success has given you a platform now to be able to kind of focus on sustainability professionally. I think my question is, on that 20 year journey, I'm guessing I know the answer to Did you care about this 20 years ago? Certainly as much as you do now. And maybe I'm wrong. But that would be my assumption, because that's what most people would say, when I asked them that question, where in that journey, do you think this subject came into that sharp focus for you?

 

James Cannings

I think the honest answer is no, I didn't care about it as I do. Now, this is something I've always been to, I mean, the context of that as well, it you know, we're, you know, the story actually, I'm most proud of is not that we survived for 20 plus years was actually, we survived the first two or three years because we were a bedroom startup that I found with my buddy, Ben, when we rolled out of university. So we were just kids really, so you know, at that point, founding a business, I'm 2021 years old, is 1999. You know, I couldn't hand on heart say I wanted to set up a business. And from day one on, we want it to be really sustainable, I think, in the broadest sense of the term sustainability in terms of being, you know, very ethical business, caring about people. being really involved in the local community, local universities employing young people, you know, yes, we kind of did that. That was just I hope in on nature, I've been an if nothing else, relatively nice people, not cutthroat businessman. And I think, you know, like you, Robert, why, but like, you can't build up a successful agency, if you're not like that. It's their people, businesses, you've got to look after them, you've got to run them sustainably and ethically and all that side. Yeah. And I guess I, you know, I was always interested in the outdoors and wildlife and etc. But it just, you know, had on heart, like, I probably a lot of us in our 20s. You know, it couldn't say it was it was usually I think what really changed for me, mid, mid late 30s was like, you know, I had, you know, kids in my late 20s. And so they were, like 1011, coming back from school. And, you know, I guess it was sort of round two, wasn't it? Because there was a lot of this stuff, you know, remember watching Al Gore's you know, infamous documentary, and there was a lot of, like, drive towards it. And then I think, you know, there was the financial crash, and we will got distracted for 10 years, sort of recovering. And we kind of lost that last decade. And I think it was that, that that thing coming back on the radar, you know, my girls coming back and asking me about it and, you know, upset about it, before they jumped on their iPhones and started talking each other or whatever, and not quite seeing the irony of that. But you know, and that that 20th anniversary, that was a real point for Ben and I can't handle it, what is it? It's got to be more to life than growing, you know, in the next numbers and the next targets and the next three year strategy. So no, it was, it was it was round two, it was it was 2018 2019. It was growing up, it was having kids who are asking questions about this, and you start to think about what is your legacy in business as a dad as a human? And yeah, so that's when it you know, so my journey has only been kind of three or four years?

 

Robert Belgrave

I would say, right? Yes. I love asking that question. Because it's amazing how common The answer is, is that is, you know, two or three years. And the reason I, I find that so exciting is because it does seem like something shifted, you know, it really does seem to me, like there is a growing public consciousness that this is a problem that needs solutions. And that is not just going to fix itself. Right. And, and whether that's people caring enough about this subject to tune into an episode like this, or, you know, taking personal action as you have and you know, making it almost the primary focus of your professional life. I just think it's, it's incredibly encouraging. So on that, really, let's say Thanks for the introduction, lovely sort of framing and context for the conversation. The last question I'll ask you before we dive into the meaty stuff is first question. Did you have the storm where you are today?

 

James Cannings

It's a bit windy. I mean, I'm in Stamford in South Lincolnshire, so we're about as far away from the sea as you can Get so we tend to just sort of get the back end of some wolf de breeze. But you're Where are you? yourself?

 

Robert Belgrave

Yeah, I'm by the beach, I'm looking at the beach down in, in pool and, and I'm, I'm surprised My house is still standing, I thought maybe Mother Nature knew we were going to be having a conversation that day. And she was mining. So

 

James Cannings

it's totally topical and relevant. I was lucky enough to be on a, there was a really interesting presentation yesterday morning and keynoted by Chris Stark, who's the chief exec of the climate change committee, and he was giving some really inspiring, you know, information and goals about what they're doing and their goals for 2030. And how, you know, that was great, but he was, you know, he was talking about kind of global average temperature increases, and actually how on the kind of, you know, particularly on the south coast, I think we've gone up, I'm gonna misquote this, but something like one and a half degrees just in the last decade, like some terrifying jump. And, yeah, we always had storms down there. And I'm not putting it on that. But just to sort of swing it around to some relevance. Yeah, yeah. It's, we could be getting more of those big tropical storms playing playing away.

 

Robert Belgrave

Almost certainly, unfortunately, it means I can't no ask you the question. I always like to ask people after a windy storm, which is What's the weirdest thing you found in your garden to this morning? And so I'll answer it for myself, which is I found one of our, like, garden deck chairs had somehow become neatly folded up, and was just in the middle of the Lord, just just about 70 meters from where it was before. So yeah, there we go.

 

There's our 70 meter garden. I think I think a couple of cushions, blew off the chair, but we'll go rebuild and

 

Robert Belgrave

make it we'll make it through. Okay, let's dive in. So I think it'd be great to just sort of talk a bit about the journey of sustainability for businesses. I think that, you know, in this context of cloud and technology, I think so many companies, like both of ours, you know, work in and around this sphere of attack, whether it's creating digital experiences for clients, or, you know, from our, from our end more on the kind of infrastructure and cloud services side, we're all interfacing with technology somewhere. And technology inevitably has a footprint, in some cases, quite heavy one in terms of its consumption. And so I think it's, there's the sort of interesting collision in you know, we're talking about motorsport before we went on air, it's like, I think there are all these things that people do in the world, that they're probably going to keep doing one way or another. And that's, that's okay. Like, I don't, I personally don't ever advocate for like, you know, sort of that canceled culture view of the world of like, stop doing all these different things. I think it's about modifying the way we do those things to be more sustainable and to, you know, to try and leave no trace, as it were to put back what we take if we are going to draw down. And I'd love your view on that sort of that suppose almost philosophical debate. And also, maybe that tease us off nicely to talk a bit about, you know, you went on that God, looking for a great calculator couldn't really find one built that built the amazing set of tools. And, you know, you talked, you sort of casually glossed over scope one, scope two in the intro, which is something people who are familiar with this topic often do, I imagine most of our listeners today have no idea what's going one and two are, so maybe we could just sort of help elaborate a bit there. And yet, so, so, so, so what happened, right, what led you to building out this amazing toolkit for businesses? Was it looking for that for yourself and just not being able to find it?

 

James Cannings

Yeah, definitely. You know, I think there are about 10 questions in there, but I'll try and Trump you know, pick through them. I mean, I think on your on your on your first point. Yeah, you know, for me, it's about, you know, people often say, Oh, look, as an individual, what's the point? Or, you know, you're just a small company, what's the point? You know, BP you're not shell, or and you can keep going up? or? Yeah, but we're just the UK and that's 2% of global emissions? What's the point? And and for me, the answer is the same. at every level to Yes, it's not about we should regress to the dark ages and completely, you know, reduce our footprint. You know, as an individual, you can do something and take action that might inspire 10 other people as a company, you can do something that might inspire by 10 other companies in your sector, or show the world that your sector whatever that is, whether your coffee shop, whether your digital agencies like us can be you know, high growth successful companies that are you know, carbon negative carbon neutral, you know, aiming to be to net zero, all this stuff. And as a UK, you know, going up and up, you know, fine, only 2% of commission emissions or whatever. If we can show the world that you can be a high growth, economy, you know, net zero economy. Again, it's, you know, for me, it's not about sort of paying backs into the past, you know, yet fine, you know, we've led the industrial age, and this is an opportunity to kind of lead the next stage and show the world that we can do it. You know, yes, China got huge, huge, huge emissions, but, you know, in some part of the UK heavily reduced its own emissions through the reduction of its manufacturing base. And, and so, you know, we do, they are the world's factories, but they are doing a lot and the technology we develop here at the country level, we can, you know, share with the world, and there's huge opportunity there. So they kind of just keeps rolling up rolling up. So I think that's the first thing. Yeah, cuz I think people get quite frustrated, you know, what can I do? And what, what's the point, and I think all levels actually going to kind of make a huge difference and difference and sort of inspire others. And, and so yeah, look, I went on this journey, you know, learn about scope one, scope two, scope three, we don't need to do kind of loads and those definitions, but you know, scope one and scope one, you're kind of direct emissions, they're their actual fossil fuels that your organization actually burns, actually, individuals have these emissions as well. So same for individuals. So typically, for a service business, where we don't have a big manufacturing base with chimneys, and pumping great gases up, your scope one is usually just your gas, because you pipe gas in and you burn it on site. So you're burning a fossil fuel on site. And so so your company fleet vehicles is, would be the big one, if you have any, we actually don't, because again, you're burning the fuel out of the cars out scope to is basically your electricity. So there's indirect because someone else is burning fossil fuels for you. Or maybe wind turbines. The scope three is the big kind of never ending pile of everything else. But actually, for service businesses, probably 80 to 90% of your emissions. So when we modeled them, the big chunks in there are commuting and in work traveled. So it's getting all your teams to and from offices. And it's all traveling between offices into clients that they do, staying in hotels. And then the other big lump is is the purchase of purchase of goods and services. And again, without measuring the reduction strategies that you see people put in place tend to be kind of shuffling deck chairs around, they tend to go off to the scope to they tend to do things that save electricity, they'll buy low energy, toasters and kettles and, you know, and tinker around, or they'll start to buy sustainable toilet paper and cleaning products. And these are all really good things to do. But actually, if you chunk down that goods and services part again, for most organizations, particularly service businesses, 80% of those are usually actually like the professional services. So that is legal HR, it you know, all of those are services that you procure, or the contracting and all that sort of stuff. And, and so by by creating this model, it's really the only way to, and that can be very light touch, again, doesn't have to be super heavy, don't spend a year doing it hugely, accurately, especially if you're small businesses. And again, I've got a very simple calculator, you can download off the site I mentioned, there are others appearing, but they're, they're pretty hopeless. And what we found is that our carbon footprint at 600 tons. This wasn't the number that meant anything to me. Six, Seven tonnes per person at the time, was fantastically cheap to offset.

 

And so I choose my words carefully, I think, you know, getting into offset is an interesting conversation. We do that, as you know, Rob through the the excellent ecology platform that you're involved with. It's fantastic. It's a great dashboard, and we can see where we're doing our offsetting. I love the fact that that's typically actually not tree planting that's usually separated out and something we do separately. Yes, typically protecting, you know, forests in the first place, or investments in in in renewables, all those kind of really nice ethical projects that they support low emission, cooking stoves and things like that. And that because that was really cheap to do and I'll come back to that, you know, our pledges to become carbon negative. So no matter how much we reduced our footprint, we will never reduce our offsetting. And I would I would suggest that any kind of service based business doesn't have a huge amount of emissions from manufacturing take takes a look at that. offsetting get some negative press and I think you have to choose your words carefully. You hear people I heard Chris Stark actually say yesterday like you know it, you know, off settings, right, but really, we've got to focus on the reduction stuff and

 

Yeah, and through a little bit of Chinese whispers is even come back to me. And somebody said to me once, you know, had a green piece of something, set it off saying this is waste of money. And when I looked at what he said, it was, you know, offsetting is not the answer, and through a couple of hops that had become that actually investment into those projects, whether some of the science of whether a ton is a ton and how many trees is there? whether some of that's debatable, and it certainly isn't scalable. No, no one disagrees. We can't just go Yeah, let's just pile it into that and carry on as we are, it is still the thing, you should do day one, you know, just just put the money there. Because if we all do that, that is billions of pounds, trillions. And everyone does it going into brilliant schemes. And if they aren't scalable, and the measurement isn't quite well, fine, we'll figure that out. When everybody signed up to them, and there aren't enough places to plant trees. The problem is, they are still a brilliant thing to do. And so for most service businesses, I would suggest do that day one, get get offsetting support those schemes measure. And then measurement will allow you to put a carbon reduction strategy in place.

 

Robert Belgrave

And then and, and so

 

using the tools that you ultimately built, you were able to do that for your own business, and then kindly have published them as you as you mentioned on that net carbon, negativeand we'll stick it in the notes for people as well. And to help others do it. Do you watch the which is great, admirable, you know, I applaud you. I think it's an amazing project. As you know, I'm hugely supportive. And I just think it's, you know, it's kind of the context of how we met ultimately, was you that you did that, and I was involved in ecology, and I just think, you know, more, we need more people like,

 

you and I know, not to blow ur own trumpets is doing this stuff, we need people taking action and helping others to take action. And, and building the tools and services to make it straightforward is a big part of how I think technology helps

 

provide the solution to this, you know, I, I've always been a big believer that technology ultimately will save us all. You know, it's a bit of a grand statement to make, but I love tech because of how it could change and improve people's lives. And I think that certainly doesn't stop, you know, reducing our impact on the planet. I always have to stop myself short of saying save the planet. Because people love reminding me when I say that the planet will be fine. It's us that will will be buggered, right? And so, you know, this is about saving us from ourselves really, and being, you know, responsible inhabit

 

James Cannings

Yes, my Trump Card! When I'm going when I'm when I'm annoying, Zach, about trying to kind of move my initiatives forwards. I just kind of remind them that will occur. I'm only trying to save human energy guys. Yeah. I know, that sounds, what you're doing sounds really important. But I don't that big a deal is fine. But let's go on to the technology bit, then. That's Yeah.

 

Robert Belgrave

Okay. That's interesting. Yeah. So so.

 

I mean, so the technology, let me Why don't we start by talking a bit about the green pages and other cool projects you're involved in? Because I think, you know, as you mentioned, already, the web has this has this sort of vast impact and footprint if you if you sum it all up.

 

And I know that there's this there's definitely divides the crowd, this one, this is this idea that, you know, building lighter web pages, in some way has a has an impact. So tell us a bit about the green pages in your your adventures there.

 

James Cannings

Yeah, it's really interesting, because the sort of headline figure doesn't do the word is much, much more nuanced and complex situation that that, you know, that the internet is estimated to have a larger, probably does have a larger carbon footprint than than the airline industry is two to 3% of, of global emissions, only billions of tons. And actually, when you start to think about it, you know, you get Okay, yeah, that that is massive, actually, calculating the carbon footprint of the internet is probably harder than putting, you know, a man on Mars or woman on Mars, I would think if you start to think about it, like it's not just data sent to us, but when you you know, you click on a website or you load a video, think about that data traveling from from the data center, through our you know, telco systems through you know, fiber optic cables which require power I get bounced around could be over 4g network that requires power eventually it comes into your home or maybe it comes into your mobile over 4g, if it comes into your home, comes to your router that requires power comes into a laptop, which requires power loads up on your screen. You know, what level of brightness has has that person got on this green? Anyway through it as soon as you start to think about the full scope of it, you realize? Blimey, that's implausibly difficult and probably not worth the time to spend to work it out. There's a wonderful website called website carbon calm, which lots of people may be familiar with. And they've open sourced all their code as well. And there's an analytics package called cabin that uses the same thing that uses a piece of research was done a few years ago to come up with a figure of 1.8 kilowatt hours, per gigabyte of transfer. So so that we're comparing apples to apples, we've got this number of 1.8 kilowatt hours generated per gigabyte of data transfer. Now, as a techie, if you overthink that you can find lots of ways that data transfer is a fundamentally flawed way of doing it, it's perfectly possible to have a highly server intensive process that serves up a small amount of data, right, and vice versa. But again, you know, we've got to have something, then we have to convert, so that's fine. So we can measure page weight, we can measure how many kilobytes of you know a page is or video stream is and we can convert it to kilowatt hours, then we have to convert that into tons of co2. Now, converting kilowatt hours into into emissions is difficult as well, because every country has a different grid emission factor. So the UK is around about 0.23. So that's the you know, depending on the amount of renewable energy supplied to the grid of that country, will adjust the grid emission factor for the UK is pretty good, the US is less good. There's also a global average now, website carbon and mostly use actually as a starting point the the kind of global average, because if you think about that data transmission I talked about, maybe it's from a US server, yeah, now maybe that's traveled through the US, maybe that's gone through a few European countries, and then into the UK. So even if you accept the fundamentally flawed starting point of doing it on data transfer, it's then really difficult also even just to transfer data transfer, enter. So the first thing I would say, and there are tools, but you know, website, comm.com, brilliant Stein point banging on web page, it will tell you that it will give you the emissions, whether it's on green hosting, read up a little bit on how that works, because what's really important, whether you're talking about a company's carbon footprint, or the carbon footprint of a website, it is the Wild West out there, like my tools are available. There's other models that they're great. They're based on a lot of science, but it is a mixture of very complex science, and estimations and dark art and magic. And so so that we're comparing apples to apples, you know, you know, we've got to have something and then we've got to just be transparent with how we're doing it. So, yes, fine. The internet has a larger conference than the airline industry. But But to your point about technology, saving us is really much more interesting and nuanced than that.

 

Yes, we should build lower carbon digital platforms, why not? Why invest? Why invest more, because the things that you do to reduce the carbon footprint of a website are the things that you do to make it better, faster, cheaper, improve conversions, and reduce your hosting costs at any rate. So if you take a user journey, and you take it from eight steps to four, you've half the carbon footprint, if you have the page weight or double the, you know, half of the page load speed, you've halved it again. Now both of those things will almost certainly improve conversions, user experience, make it you know, cheaper to host and store blah, blah, blah. So we're kind of doing it anyway, we're just not measuring it. And the world is missing the equivalent of the accessibility guidelines, which we've had for 20 plus years, which means that, you know, we're kind of, you know, duty bound, legally bound to build, you know, web pages and experiences for a whole range of people with with all sorts of different kind of impairments. And we just don't have that for sustainability. So the green pages is a low carbon website. That is just a curated set of resources, like website, carbon, and carbon analytics, in terms of the measurement and a whole range of tools for, as I mentioned, you know, any digital team, in an agency within, you know, within a within the organization, whether you're a UX designer, an engineer, an architect, an infrastructure person, you're thinking about placing ad content media and thinking about the carbon footprint of those ad campaigns, there are tools there to do it, and have conversations with your clients about how you might offset that campaign. Now, here's the nuanced bit like, that's a good thing to do. But if we all went out and did and is an example, this is the sort of thing I think you'll see over the next five years Netflix, wouldn't it be cool if they had a green mode? Right? They're constantly pumping, super high definition the next time mega high definition. I don't know what the next one is, as much as they you know, they're pumping this down and great. And most of us can't necessarily tell like the huge difference Wouldn't it be cool if they had a green mode where it just dropped it down a little bit. And every month, they sent me an update to saying, hey, James, thanks for what, Ching in green mode, you've just saved, you know, 15 tons of 15 kilos of co2. But I've always been, we'd love that. And I think you'll see that I think you'll see that in YouTube. And somebody and I think people cleverer than me, will find interesting ways to get that message across to consumers or across on websites, because we all like to go and buy our only milk because it's three grams less co2, we don't really know what that means, or it's wrapped up in green packaging. And it sounds good to consumers really, like that. So there's a real kind of win win win for building lower carbon

 

digital experiences. The nuanced bet now, sir, I'll now shut up for a bit is, of course, unlike the airline industry, where the benefit is cheap air travel, and I can go on holiday, I can get to places quickly. For a digital platform, yes, it has a footprint, often it has a benefit. And that's on a spectrum. So, you know, this video calls a great example relatively high footprint, because we're streaming video. But previously, I might have traveled down to London, and we would have got together and had a panel discussion. And that would be massively higher. So again, people cleverer than me will find creative ways, I think, to tell consumers, not just how much lower the footprint of the platform is, but also thinking about customer experience mapping and how that digital experience relates to offline touchpoints, which is something we've been doing for years starting to bring in carbon footprint. And thinking about that, that's kind of layer two. And the final third layer is, you can, I think, start to have fun, in some cases with those grid emissions again, so there are lots of really cool and simple API's available. And you can get these off the green pages, to in real time, find out what the National Grid emissions are. So if we take the UK, for example, I mentioned it's kind of 0.23. So you know, sort of kilograms per kilowatt hour. But that changes during the that's an average over the year, during the day. If it's if it's sunny and windy, then it were really, really good. And vice versa, if it's kind of cold, still dark evening. So wouldn't it be fun to have a website that changed its behavior based on the grid emissions and in that country? So there is some obvious examples in the IoT world. So you can have an air conditioning system, that if the grid emissions dropped below a certain threshold, it can out for 30 minutes, people probably wouldn't notice that much. But you know, you can have a very green as on the more kind of PR stance side of things, wouldn't it be cool to have a website that if the grid emissions drop below a certain threshold, it went into dark mode, right? Black pages require less power than white pages on a monitor. So that might be more of a kind of gimmicky awareness, raising awareness thing. But again, clever UX, people will think of cool ways along that spectrum to do that. Those are the three layers I think about and that's why it's different to the airline industry. Because yes, it has a footprint. But yes, it can have significant benefits on top of that, and then you can and then the third layer, is that kind of actually changing the experience dynamically based on on grid emission factors? Yeah, really? answer to a question. I don't know.

 

Robert Belgrave

Sorry. I mean, it was an answer to the question. How many agents? Yeah, that's good. You know, that's, that's what we're here for James. Good rambling chat about the subject. I mean, I. So couple of things that I'll pull out from from that dark mode is saving the planet, everybody, you heard it here first.

 

He's not just a superior experience, you are actually saving the planet by by providing it and using it. So please, dark mode in all your user experiences everybody. And slightly joking, but it's kind of true, actually. But I love the suggestion that maybe there's a third mode coming, maybe there's a green mode for things. I think that's a really good idea. Actually, I you know, how many how many customers would would elect to use green mode and their experiences? I think a lot of people

 

James Cannings would stop right now. Right? I mean, you know, it's an embargo. If we, if teams had agreed mode, we'd say to everybody, look, we're not streaming in high definition. The last thing you want is high definition. You know, me and Robin your face anyway. I couldn't agree more. Like why wouldn't we? So I don't know someone's, I've, you know, I'm claiming that right? You heard it here for bursts. We can date stamp, we've got a date stamp on this when it starts to come. But look, you know, that's what we've tried to do with the green pages, what we're trying to do by getting out there into the community, and sharing all these kind of ideas and thoughts.

 

Robert Belgrave

Yes, provoking, isn't it? It's it provokes people to think differently about the work that they do and the context within which they do it. And I think, you know, you talked about the Netflix example, you know, Netflix notoriously have

 

teams of people whose entire

 

Job is focusing on how content is laid out in the interface on different screen sizes. And the joke, of course, is it means they have a six inch guy and a nine inch guy and a 12 inch guy, right. And that's, that is generally the theory into internal like monkey as they give them. And I'd love to imagine that they might already have a team of people whose entire focus is thinking about how they can make the delivery of the platform have a low footprint, right? And in terms of how they how they must be thinking about this, it's such an obvious one for them. And you know, and there's been a spotlight on it for a few years now. And there's, there's reports out there, and there's committees looking,

 

James Cannings

But look at the moment, it's the best way to kind of get funding for these big sustainability initiatives.

 

And so yeah, like, you know, look, you know, looking at things like, you know, B Corp, which is,

 

you know, becoming more and more popular and is broader is that back to what we just talked about before is that kind of this covering ethics, diversity and inclusion, and all the environmental stuff is, is becoming a proper kind of strategic pillar of how an organization is run and is getting, you know, real time at the board table, and you know, the word, certainly we're doing a miscue, the our carbon footprint on a sort of per head basis, the offsetting that we're doing the targets, we've got to have that over three years, though, is the KPIs that are reported up to the board and sit alongside, you know, our EBIT da and our turnover, you know, that those are, you know, targets, and we're, we're doing everything, we can meet them alongside everything else. So, yes, and no, it is used by marketing teams, but it's not just, you know, it's much more than that companies that are just greenwashing and just walking the talk, but not doing it aren't going to survive it really, or they're just going to get called out very quickly and look stupid.

 

Robert Belgrave

Yeah, I agree. And I think this is all part of the kind of public consciousness waking up a bit, you know, whereas planting one tree for every, you know, month of the year, might might have seemed like an an exciting and amazing thing to do a year ago, I think people now are like, well, hang on a minute, I've got an ecology subscription, and I'm planning 300 trees a month. So that can't be that good. You know, like, people are just becoming aware of what the scale of impact needs to look like to truly make a difference, and certainly what's appropriate for a large organization. And, and so I never want to like talk down about people doing the kind of silly Oh, you know, we'll plant one tree for every x stuff, because it's bad and did planning no trees. But equally, I think I agree with you that I you know, I hope that that stuff comes out in the wash anyway, because consumers become wiser and more savvy. And but I do think Yeah, I agree. I just not about just on that point, Rob, I think definitely, like, my approach is just, you know, not about shaming those those those come Oh, noes. No, but but helping to educate. Sometimes it's just sort of, you know, naivety, they've done something, their marketing teams pushing it out, there's a disconnect there, they probably didn't realize how, you know, cheap it was or whatever it is, and it's more bad just dropping them a private note, and just saying, hey, like, you know, can we can we help, I've got these resources, this this course, you know, whatever. But, you know, by the, you know, by the way, we've done x, y, and Zed, because they've seen kind of realize that,

 

James Cannings

you know, that they're potentially looking a bit daft, and they're gonna end up with some blowback if they're not careful.

 

Robert Belgrave

Yeah, sorry, interrupt. No, no, it's always. Yeah, I agree. And, and so I suppose, just touching briefly on the kind of cloud context and a little bit more detail. My long term belief has been the, you know, moving technology into these kind of hyper scaled, centralized facilities, which is public cloud today. Is, is positive from a sustainability point of view, because you can find efficiencies through scale, it's a bit like the electric vehicle argument, right? Just a lot of electricity is still derived from fossil fuel, but it's done much more efficiently at scale than it can be done in small batches burning in, you know, a combustion engine. Do you? Do you buy that the cloud argument? Do you agree with that? Like, would you tell a business moving to cloud is a, you know, is a sustainable choice versus the alternatives? What's your view there?

 

James Cannings

Yeah, it's, it's another one of those win wins, it's about understanding the data. And again, it's it's a bit, you know, loose, depending on how you measure the scope of that carbon footprint. You know, data centers are, you know, only, you know, 10 20% when you when you think about all the other kind of power that comes through, but that, again, take those numbers with a pinch of salt, because people measure different things in different scopes. And it depends on the application. But it's like, absolutely, it's a win win, you know, all the big, you know, cloud providers, you know, AWS and Google and you know, Microsoft, etc, etc. And, you know, the mid tier kind of, you know, sizable data centers, you know, your rack spaces in the UK, fasten whoever you use, but are, are in investing and moving quickly towards, you know, green energy. You know, you hear Microsoft talking about looking at, you know, not just green energy, but can they put data centers underwater and all sorts of weird wonderful things in order to reduce it You know, electricity uses, obviously cooling and things is a huge element of it. So, unquestionably, it's a great thing to do, to sort of migrate into the crap that the cloud you know, and I just think it's a win win with all the other benefits that come with clouds, you know, anyway, in terms of, you know, cost and, for me, kind of, you know, security, and this is, you're well, more than me, you know, people kind of get a bit sort of out with them all. But if we can go and physically see the box in our own data center, then we can control the security. And it's like, Yeah, but how good are you at making sure it's always patched and always updated? noise? graded? You know, these guys are obsessed with data breaches. It's everything they do. I think, for me, you know, it's just win win win security, cost scalability, all of the benefits have been to cloud. Plus, yes, that the environmental bit, they're all looking and transitioning to to green energy. You'll see that alive next few years.

 

Robert Belgrave

Yeah, they certainly are. And, and the, the Microsoft sunken data center project. For those that haven't seen, it is worth googling for. They did an initial pilot, and it was successful. And they're now trying a kind of second pilot, where they basically built a sort of modest scale data center, and put it in a kind of big steel tube for one of a better word and submerged it in the ocean. And in an attempt to derive completely efficient cooling from the oceans temperature. I, I must say, my, my mind did shift to the to the thought of, are we going to end up boiling the ocean with data centers, but that's probably I think there's probably enough water for it not to matter. Anyway, Joe, joking aside, I think it's just a really cool example of companies pushing the boundaries and exploring what's possible. And I mean, you know, we're in an age, we're in an age where we're watching SpaceX, SpaceX rockets, increasingly successfully takeoff with huge payloads, it seems sort of inevitable to me that the long term answer to a lot of this stuff is space, really, you know, it's moving a lot of this stuff off planet, eventually, we may not be alive to see it, but it seems like it gets there eventually. So I guess, again, what I'm getting at is I think tech saves us if we can survive long enough. I think we need to take action today. Because if we don't, I'm not convinced we will be around for long enough for the technology to get there. But I do think the technology ultimately does get there. So in so in that gap we're in now, you know, it's you talked about, you know, your that that kind of legacy, emotion with, with children, it's amazing how often that seems to be the trigger point for people realizing, hang on, what are we leaving behind for our kids? I think that's the reason why ultimately, the time to take action is now because we need to create a big enough buffer for the tech solutions to really kick in in earnest and start to solve these problems comprehensively. So, look, it's been a you know, fantastic, rambling chat, we've got few minutes left, and what else is there you'd like to cover or promote? Or share that perhaps we've not had a chance to talk about yet?

 

James Cannings

No, I think maybe just try and we just come back and condense into those two areas of like, what what action? Could you take? Yeah, on your point, I think we've really be aligned with the, you know, either you believe we're all big, We're all doomed, or you kind of Elon Musk style. Let's just give him enough time to colonize Mars, and it'll be okay. And there's lots of little things that I'm doing and we're doing to support SMEs. You know, those of you saw the Bill Gates documentaries. Last year, I think it was, you know, that stuff, you know, like terrapower. So have you seen like their, this design that they have for clean in green, you know, nuclear energy that actually uses existing nuclear waste, and they show this lovely shot of things a facility in Turkey that has enough nuclear waste to power the US for the next 100 years or something that's a really big technology projects? the government's doing private sector is doing that. But in terms of what we can do, you know, presume lots of people watching and more in the kind of SME world small businesses, you know, you can get moving really quickly. And I'll give recology a plug because actually, although I think you should absolutely start by you need to measure your carbon footprint because you can't put a sensible reduction strategy in place, unless you understand the profile of it. As I talked about before other ways you just moving deckchairs around. But if you want to get started super quickly while you're doing that, because that can take a few weeks or months to do at sign up to something like ecology as a business. It's incredibly cost effective, incredibly cheap. Tomorrow. You could be a climate positive organization, use the commercial benefits that come with that stick the logo on your pitch decks on your websites and your email. Brilliant just get tree plantings brilliant Internally staff love it helps with recruitment lots and lots of benefits, do that there's a bit opposite way around, then Then do you measurement, you can always go back and adjust how much offsetting you've done that that's fine. Jump on net carbon negative k if you like, there's, you know, there's quite a lot of stuff on there. But the thing you're looking for is the is the carbon calculator, system, very simple spreadsheet, you drop in some data, and it will give you your scope one, scope two, scope three emissions you doing. Most of you will get from your finance teams, you do a simple survey around commuting bang, you've got it that will really help you see how, where the big gains? How can we now have our footprint over the next three, four years? So you measure it put in a strategy to reduce it. And then yeah, those again, again, I would think most people watching this are interested on the tech side, the digital side, you know, have a look at the green pages. Yeah, we'll share the link to the green pages dot Bheema dot code at UK. pass that on to your digital teams, designers or developers, your infrastructure people, as I say is very simple. It's just a curated set of resources. All teams that I've shared that with have just gone, Oh, great, this is really easy. We're sort of doing this stuff anyway, we're just not measuring it, when we're just not thinking about it. You know, so UX design is just sticking high res hero banners at the top of every page, and not going well is the kind of benefit of that like really shiny call to action, you know, Misty video background to our homepage worth the footprint when it's not thinking about it. But we're doing a lot of the stuff anyways. So you know, have a look at the green pages now later really kind of build up that capability for within your your own teams or for your clients, you know, whatever type of business you are. So we've waffled on a lot saying that there are some really quick wins starting point, jump on something like ecology become climate positive tomorrow, if you're a service business, it's crazy t net carbon negative to measure and start to reduce the green pages to focus on supercharge that capability around the building. more sustainable platforms.

 

Robert Belgrave

Love it. And if you're not using cloud services already, because you're a lunatic, then now's the time to start. And, and if you build a website, or you have any influence over the building of a website, and you're watching this or listening to it, get a green mode, put on your website. And I'll tell you what, our plan 100 trees for everybody that sends me a screenshot, or, frankly, a working demonstration of a website with a green mode on it. Because I just think that's such a cool idea. And I'd love it if that became a thing. And I'd love it even more if we could attribute it to you, James. So yeah, that was popping up. I can, I'm sure someone's frantically making 100 websites now to teach me a lesson for saying that, but I'm okay with that. That's, that's all right. And, James, thank you so much for your time and everything you're doing in this area, you know, you've you've been so generous with the resources you've created for your own challenges. And I really think that's what these these types of challenges in our lives need. They need people like you who are incredibly switched on and and figure out how to solve these problems, and then give it away, give it back to the planet open source it right. And I just think it's so so amazing that these resources exist now. And whether that's tools like ecology, or, you know, all the amazing work that you've done with that carbon negative or the amazing green pages with Beamer and everything in between. and, you know, these are the building blocks that make it easy for people to do something about it should they wish to. And so, if you've enjoyed watching this, or you've enjoyed listening to it, and do something, take action, right, it's so easy. It's very, very cheap. And your your teams will appreciate it, your customers certainly will appreciate it. And it's you know, and and hopefully we'll all have a you know, a slightly longer and happier life as a result. So, and James, thank you so much. And thanks to everybody watching, watching listening along. That was while I've Episode 12 I'm going to go and clean up my garden.

 

James Cannings

Thanks, everybody.