The Wikimedia Foundation believes that a long-term commitment to sustainability is an essential component of our work towards the Wikimedia mission and vision – and our 2030 Movement Strategy goals. As part of that commitment, today we are publishing our Environmental Sustainability Report for calendar year 2022. This report is the fifth in an ongoing series of annual reports, the first of which was published in 2019 for calendar year 2018.
In calendar year 2022, the Wikimedia Foundation’s scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions totaled 2,955 metric tons of CO2-equivalent – less than 1% of other top 10 website platforms like Google and Meta.
Our analysis yielded several important takeaways:
1. We can do more to understand the environmental impacts of remote work. In order to more accurately track the emissions of our increasingly distributed remote workforce, this year we expanded our scope 3 emissions to include remote work impacts. These impacts include our remote employees’ estimated home energy use, as well as their commutes to workspaces other than our San Francisco, USA office (e.g., cafes, coworking spaces, libraries etc). By our calculations, remote work was responsible for 505 mtCo2e, or 17% of our total emissions, in 2022. These impacts far outweighed the emissions associated with our San Francisco office space. With more companies adopting a remote-first model, we expect more guidance related to calculating remote works impacts to be published in the years ahead and we will continue to look for ways to improve the accuracy of this category.
While our scope 1 and 2 emissions remained relatively unchanged year-over-year, the decision to include remote work impacts, as well as a 2021 methodological update to our data center emissions, resulted in an increase to our scope 3 emissions in 2022.
2. While business travel resumed in 2022, we are still well below pre-pandemic levels of travel despite significant growth in our workforce. In 2022, travel-related emissions were 25% below 2019 levels (our last full year of travel before the COVID-19 pandemic), even though we increased our staff from 445 to 711 over that time period. The lower levels of travel were due to the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., major annual events like Wikimania and our staff All Hands were still held virtually) and an organizational effort to be more intentional about travel.
3. Wikipedia continues to grow as a critical resource for education and awareness about the climate crisis. Wikipedia recorded 346 million pageviews across more than 31,000 articles about climate change in 2022, with billions more pageviews on other sustainability-related topics. Through campaigns like our annual #WikiforHumanRights campaign, which is running now until June, we are supporting community efforts to both improve the content and increase the number of these articles. Earlier this month, we also announced the first round of grant recipients from our Internal Carbon Fund, which was established last year through a US$50 internal fee, or “tax”, on our annual emissions. These grantees will apply the organizing skills learned in our Organizer Lab (beta) to organize their own climate and sustainability campaigns.
The chart below provides a summary of our 2022 emissions as compared to prior years:
- In 2022, travel-related emissions remained 25% below 2019 levels (our last full year of travel before the COVID-19 pandemic) despite a 60% increase in our workforce, from 445 to 711, over that time period.
- Because the electricity consumed at our colocated data center sites is purchased by our data center vendors directly (and therefore included in their scope 2 emissions), data center electricity emissions were moved from our scope 2 to scope 3 category in our 2021 report. Following guidance outlined in the GHG protocol, we subsequently updated our data center emissions methodology in the same year to reflect the emissions factors of the grids where our data centers operate rather than the procurement decisions of our vendors (i.e.. PPAs, RECs etc). This resulted in a 75% increase in our calculated data center emissions between 2020 and 2021. Please see our 2021 report for more information.
- In 2022, we expanded our Working Environments (formerly Office) category to include remote work impacts for the first time (e.g., remote employees’ estimated home energy use and commuting to alternative workspaces). These are pictured here in light gray.
For more information about the Wikimedia Foundation’s sustainability efforts, including past reports, please visit our Sustainability Meta page.
And if you would like to get involved and raise awareness about the impacts of climate change this Earth Day, watch a recording of the 2023 #WikiforHumanRights: Right to a Health Environment kickoff event, which aired on Tuesday, April 18th, and check out the campaign’s Events Page to find events happening in your region.
You can also ask us a question on the talk page at meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:Sustainability or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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