Environment Variables
The Week in Green Software: Web 3.0 and Energy Standards for Software
March 15, 2023
In this the latest episode of The Week in Green Software, Chris Adams is joined by first time Environment Variables guest Tammy McClellan and regulars Anne Currie and Asim Hussain. They discuss the concept of greenwashing; what it is and how companies can avoid it, and why green IT is no longer an option for the tech sector. They cover various statistics about the environmental impact of data centers and cloud computing, the importance of optimizing code and algorithms to reduce emissions, and how developers can’t just rely on hardware to reduce emissions. The hosts also touch on some valuable resources to further your knowledge in the world of Green Software - links below!
This episode of TWiGS has Chris Adams at the helm again with guests Asim Hussain and Anne Currie. They talk about the impact of Web 3.0 and why the future of immutable blockchains needs to be open source and sustainable and perhaps isn’t the only solution out there. They also talk about recent news from the BBC, AWS and highlight some great resources for you to expand your knowledge in the world of sustainable software.

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Transcription Below:

Asim Hussain: In the foundation we talk about carbon efficiency, which is minimizing the amount of carbon per whatever unit per value that you're providing to the end user. And I think there's multiple ways you can think about that cuz you can actually think about fundamentally changing the nature of your application so that you can actually provide the same value without even needing the same functionality.

And I think that's kind of the way we need to really think about this stuff.

Chris Adams: Hello, and welcome to Environment Variables, brought to you by the Green Software Foundation. In each episode, we discuss the latest news and events surrounding green software. On our show, you can expect candid conversations with top experts in their field who have a passion for how to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of software.

I'm your host, Chris Adams.

Welcome to this week's episode of The Week in Green Software, where we bring you the latest news and updates from the world of sustainable software development. I'm your host, Chris Adams, and in this episode we have some exciting announcements from the world of energy standards for software, and yes, even Web 3.0, we also bring you some exciting upcoming events. Before we dive in though, let me introduce our participants for this episode of this week in Green software. With us today, we have Anne. Hi Anne!

Anne Currie: Hello, Chris.

Chris Adams: And we have Asim Hussain. Hey, Asim.

Asim Hussain: Hi Chris!

Chris Adams: Okay, so if you don't know Asim and Anne, maybe we should, they should introduce themselves.

I'll hand over to you Anne first, if that's okay. Cuz it's alphabetically ahead of Asim. And then we'll know to you Asim. So Anne, for people who've never met you, how would you introduce yourself?

Anne Currie: So my name is Anne Currie. I've been in the tech industry for nearly 30 years, and I've been an engineer in various other things. And the past six or seven years I've been doing quite a lot on sustainable software. I work for a company or I work with a company called Container Solutions, and I am one of the co-chairs of the GSF Community Committee.

Chris Adams: Cool. Thank you Anne and, Asim over to you.

Asim Hussain: I really respect the going via alphabetical order. If you go to the Green Software Foundation website, you'll notice that all our companies are listed in alphabetical order. So as, uh, to be fair, So my name's Asim Hussain. I'm the executive director and chairperson of the Green Software Foundation. One of the ways I used to describe what I do there is I'm in charge of the GSF operating system.

I'm like Linus Torvalds but for the GSF operating system, that's who I am. But I'm here to help all the wonderful people like Anne and Chris and every else involved in the foundation build their amazing solutions and help them to execute what they do.

Chris Adams: Cool. Thank you Asim. Alright. My name is Chris. As I said before, I am the executive director of the Green Web Foundation. I work with the Green Software Foundation. As their policy chair for the policy working group. And I also help run a small community online called climateaction.tech, which is passed recently, 8,000 techies working on climate and tech in this particular intersection.

And, uh, Yeah, that's what I've, that's the thing I do. And that's the milestone that we've passed recently. But before we dive in, we should just stop and I'm just gonna make you all aware that anything we talk about today we'll share links. So if there's something that caught your eye, if you go to podcast.greensoftware.foundation, you'll see some links specifically to those stories.

Okay. So I guess for that, folks, should we start looking at some of the news and see what's showed up in the news this week?

Anne Currie: Yes, let's do that.

Chris Adams: Okay, so the first one we have here is how slimmed down websites can cut their carbon emissions. This is a story from the BBC and this is the first time it's actually one of the set. The BBC has some, is some form in looking at this stuff.

But this is a recent story that came out in the last week or two actually, and uh, I might hand over to either Anne or Asim who've got some records on this one because it's quite nice to see the BBC looking at this. But there's always more to this story than what you actually just see just here.

Anne Currie: Chris, it's, it's interesting you've handed over to us for the reckons on this, because you are literally the world's expert in this particular field, are you not as the chairperson of the Green Web Foundation, which is entirely devoted to this very subject of how you make the Web less carbon intensive.

Asim Hussain: I think Chris is being humble, so

Anne Currie: A humble aside, Chris, what do you think? What do you think about this?

Asim Hussain: Because you know what if I was ever asked? I will just forward the request and ask Chris what he thinks and then mirror that statement out to everybody else

Anne Currie: Indeed, so would I

Asim Hussain: Yeah.

Chris Adams: Well, the thing is I, the thing I can actually point to is that, that's nice of you to say, although I work at the Green Web Foundation, there are lots of other groups who are mentioned in this now. One of them is the Eco-Friendly Web Alliance, which I'm not so familiar with, but some of the other names, Wholegrain Digital and Eco Grader are both listed in here.

In this, they talk about some of the tools that you can use to basically, estimate the environmental impact of a website by looking at how much data is sent over the wire. Now, the thing that I should share with you is that this is one way that you can, uh, Get a rough idea of what the environmental impact for Web website might be.

But it's also useful to bear in mind that a phrase that all models are wrong, some models are useful, and we maintain a library called CO2.js, which helps get some of these kinds of conversion factors. So if you know how much you're using something, you might get an idea of what the environmental impact might be.

But there's a lot more to just looking at the data that's sent over the wire. And I think I might hand over to one of you two here because there's a few other things I can tell you about, but I'd wanna make some space for either of you, because I'm pretty sure you have some questions at this point.

Asim Hussain: So they talk in this particular article or the show about how the highlight of the story is how a UK knitwear designer was trying to do everything else with her business to be environmentally friendly, sourcing surplus yarn. Everything is made to order using hand powered knitting machine. But, Not being aware that her website emits con nine, was it 9.89 grams of carbon every time a user visits her homepage, which is 10 times the eco-friendly Web alliance's recommended limit of one gram. So that's an interesting aspect of it all, which is like you, you've got this person who's building this business. Interestingly, just as a slightly slide, my wife is also a UK based knitwear designer, and literally yesterday in the evening, she actually was spinning her own yarn using one of those oldie style like foot things.

That's what she does. So this is, this is, we'll definitely watch that show. But yeah, it's interesting. So, You're doing all this stuff in your life, but you don't realize that your website, the thing that you're selling, your product actually has carbon motions as well. I think so. Chris, you were mentioning something before we used to hit recording.

You mentioned something about how it was like people just realizing that , your digital aspect of your business is almost just completely ignored. You don't even think about it. And I remember like those, there was some, a video that came up to my radar the other day was just a bunch of young guys sitting around talking to each other and one of 'em going, did you know you can edit the internet?

Another one going, yeah, you know, you can go to Wikipedia and just edit a page. No way you can edit

Anne Currie: Good luck with getting that edit accepted!

Asim Hussain: but it was like, I feel like that's maybe the statement that's coming through from this show is, oh, did you know by the way, that websites also emit stuff they have, and there's things you can do to reduce that.

And it's that realization in people's minds that this is actually an important aspect of their total emissions footprint.

Chris Adams: This is true in that yes, the energy has to come from somewhere. That's definitely the case. Now, whether a website being 10 times the size of another website mean it means it has 10 times a carbon footprint, that's another matter. And I see you shaking your head. So I think, I reckon you've got something to share before I come in on this one as well.

Anne Currie: Yeah, there are loads of factors, operational factors to take into account when it comes down to that. Where is the power coming that is powering the servers that are hosting that machine, for example, is, are you hosting somewhere where everything's green, all the power's green, in which case, you know, fill your boots, it's fine.

Are you delivering content at a time when basically everything's green, so maybe only business content and therefore you're not really serving up at peak times? For example, in the evening when people are home, if you are a very popular website, then you might be using a cdn, you might be caching your data, and in fact, the more popular you are, the more likely the data is to be cached somewhere close to the Edge, so your website isn't even hit when the big images are pull pulled.

So yes, there are loads of factors that are not just about whether you've got a really heavyweight framework that's serving up your webpages, although there are bad reasons for that as well. There are accessibility issues associated with very heavyweight web platforms as well. Cause often they do not have the accessibility features.

That's basically an HTML based website would have. So there are lots of issues and lots of questions.

Asim Hussain: It also depends upon the value that your website is providing to the end user as well. Because there's 10 grams per sending some lifesaving medication to something. It depends on the value it's providing as well. I'm sure we can always like, sure all of our products are as efficient as possible, but that is the one way.

I really talk about it is in the foundation we talk about carbon efficiency, which is minimizing the amount of carbon per whatever unit per value that you're providing to the end user. And I think there's multiple ways you can think about that cuz you can actually think about fundamentally changing the nature of your application so that you can actually provide the same value without even needing the same functionality.

And I think that's kinda the way we need to really think about this stuff.

Chris Adams: Thanks Asim. Alright, so the thing I might share now is, yes, I agree that we'll do all these things. Accessibility is absolutely a factor that gets played into this because there's actually studies and there's evidence showing that, uh, Basically designing a digital service in a particular way can basically lead to induced updates.

So people being forced to have to upgrade from, say an old phone to another phone and something like that. And when you bear in mind and Yeah, exactly. There's actually a really good study that was shared at a conference called The Limits Conference, where people are looking at the devices that were being used in various distance learning tools, and you could see very quickly, At a certain point how just certain devices just stopped showing up in the analytics at all simply because they were being, essentially they, the site was no longer accessible to people.

And given that around 75% of the impact for most devices is actually from the manufacturing, not the use, this is one of the big leverage points actually. If you are interested in this, there is actually some work from the Green Software Foundation. There's actually a training course for this. In my organization we've recently published a handbook for community tech specialists who are basically taking their first steps into this. But the thing to bear in mind is that, It doesn't automatically follow that a website being 10 times the size is 10 times as bad for the environment. It really doesn't necessarily work like that.

It's useful to start, but there are tools to, for you to get a much better idea and really observe directly where the energy is being used in the system. But in order for you to do that, you do need to have a bit more transparency through this. And because the internet is made up of so many different companies, that can be quite difficult and the story of transparency and companies when you're trying to understand where the hotspots are in digital services is a perennial one, but this is actually one that is actually getting better in that there are companies like Microsoft and Amazon and Google who now expose some of these metrics to end users.

Asim Hussain: There is a very significant percentage believe it's safe to say like greater than 50% of all the energy. Like if you think of like using laptops, what is the application that's actually been used the most on a laptop? Like we think it's like the actual things we install. It's not, it's the browsers. So that's why websites are so much more significant than we may be give them credit for, because a significant portion of the energy from a desktop is be of my laptop.

Desktop is being used to just to browse websites. I think the mobile, I've heard a slightly different story, which is that mobile use, people tend to still install things, but then they probably still install. That's a technology. Now, Web, you're installing effectively a Web. , but it's an installed thing. So I think like the Web is, at least in terms of end user devices, probably the most significant consumer of electricity I'm guessing here right now.

And I'm also guessing that on the service side, that's not going to be the case. It's probably gonna be something more like a numerically computational like machine learning thing or something. I don't know.

Chris Adams: So here's one thing that might be of use. So we spoke about the Firefox browser having some of these metrics cuz they've basically the people who build the Firefox browser set a target to make it the greenest browser possible. In order for them to do that. Need to see where the actual impact is taking place.

And I dunno if any other browser that provides the same level of detail right now into this, and it'd be really lovely to see the other browsers doing this to expose those kind of metrics out there. But this is probably one way you can find out. So we could actually see which applications are doing this now in Germany at least there is some work going on to start providing a kind of labeling system for various processes.

And uh, one thing that was shared at FOSDEM, a recent kind of open source conference was essentially comparing an open source word processing tool and a well-known proprietary word processing tool. And basically as you got a, a document open, the actual blinking cursor was basically one of the things that end up causing a massive spike in CPU every single time again and again.

It might be fixed now. If you look up the project called SoftAware, and I'll share the link for that. There's a bit of information around here, and the folks at, oh God, KDE, they have spoken about this at length, and there's a really nice talk at FOSDEM about specifically this stuff. We'll share a link to it. Okay, so what's next on our list?

There's another one, Amazon Sustainability work. This is a story in computing weekly and the short version, the headline is basically Amazon denies claims hiring freeze slowing AWS sustainability work. And, uh, as I can see it, basically a number of high profile people left the sustainability team within Amazon, and that's led to a number of people who are downstream as consumers or customers of Amazon thinking, oh Christ, what's gonna happen with the actual metrics?

Is it gonna keep developing at the speed it was? And given the size of Amazon, this is probably quite a substantial story, basically.

Anne Currie: Yeah, it does really matter what the HyperCloud providers do, really does matter. And it sounds like aws, have they, they had a bit of. They moved forward, they did quite a lot, but now suddenly they seem through falling back behind Azure and Google again. They're still making good progress, apparently on sourcing green electricity to power data centers.

But in terms of that whole architecture, so it was two years ago now, I think they announced the sustainability. Architectural pillar, which was an indication that everyone needs to actually start thinking about how to we as Amazon users, we were responsible for the sustainability of our own systems within the cloud.

So AWS said that, take responsibility for the cloud, but we had to be sustainable within the cloud. And that really meant things like using serverless, using spot instances, that kind of thing. Just being more efficient, turning things off when you're not using them and all that kind of stuff, and they had quite a focus on it, but lots of people have left and now there seems to be much less of a focus on it.

And the thing is that with Amazon, the reason why I'm animated about it, because there's something we can do about it because. Amazon are very focused on customers and customers saying they want it. So here, if we want that to get focus back again, and it is important that it does have focus. We need to be telling our AWS reps that we care about this and we're annoyed that we're not getting the progress that we are seeing that we would've had we been on Azure or GCP.

So yeah, use your wallet to have your, say, tell your AWS reps that you care about this and it needs to go back up the priority list.

Asim Hussain: I feel capable of giving a balanced viewpoint now that I don't work for one of the hyperscalers anymore. But I also do, I do work with a partner who partners deep with hyperscalers, so I'm not gonna. Say anything wild. But what I will say is that like it was always like, cause I was at Microsoft at the time, like a couple of years ago, I remember there was an article by Wired very early days, just ranked the hyperscalers and gave them an A, B, C, D, F score.

And I remember Google got B and Microsoft got B plus and Amazon got. Hopefully we'll correct, we'll make sure, we'll make sure the right number is there. I think it was like a D or an E or something like that. But the, from those days to just recently they moved, they accelerated very fast. I remember it was not last year.

It must have been the year before. I remember that. So they announced a couple of things that, not the last reinvent, the previous re is it is reinvent every year. Is it every

Anne Currie: Once a year. Once a

Asim Hussain: last, not the last

Anne Currie: It wasn't last night. It was the previous one. Yeah.

Asim Hussain: they announced that the sustainability content, the WAF content, they're from the rightly, the well architected framework content.

Then almost immediately they tease their cloud carbon footprint calculator, and I tell you right now, I was there thinking, oh, they're teased it. Well wait a year and then, then they'll announced it and within months it had come out. So I was at the sidelines going, wow, this's. They're really going for Amazon.

Really impressed. This is excellent work. I chatted to people who were in there and I was very, I was honestly very, very impressed with Amazon's execution in this space. It was happening very rapidly, very fast. I, from what I heard internally, you know, this was actually being driven the way I would, I think it should be driven from within organization, which is top down.

You were getting measured at the leadership level for sustainability commitments, which is why it was happening. So it's really sad to me to see an article like this, and I think there was this follow on conversation with Adrian Cockcroft on LinkedIn, which is about, there's cuts happening across the board in tech companies.

And I remember I was quite naive at the start of the year. I was thinking, no one will touch sustainability, but we're on the chopping block like everything else.

Chris Adams: Well, I guess if you're only making 300 billion in revenue each year, I gotta, I dunno how you're possibly gonna be able to hire anyone, right? How many hundreds of billions do you need to be earning before you can bring a sustainability team in? For folks who actually using Amazon and feel a little bit defensive about this.

We've also shared a link to some of the sustainability theme sessions at the last AWS reinvent from Adrian Cockcroft's blog, where he's gone through the the list of all this and put together a number of really interesting and useful ones for this. But this is the thing that, as Anne says, if you were a customer of Amazon, this is probably one thing you could ask for to help a customer obsessed organization move a bit more quickly on something like this, because this is one thing where I think they're quite comfortably behind the other two right now. And given the size, they probably have disproportionate impact.

Anne Currie: Yeah, so actually I do as well to add something like, because this has reminded me of something I'd forgotten about, but it's very relevant to this podcast. One of the things I'm working on at the moment is a book that I can talk about, which is a, a reissue of a book I wrote, ooh, about six or seven years ago about Cloud native and it had a lot of case studies in about people who are doing interesting things and we're just about to reissue.

So we've re updated all the case studies. One of the case studies is a particularly interesting one from Skyscanner who are a company in the uk. And what they've been up to recently has been FinOps with a climate's twist. So they have been looking at ways to cut their hosting costs. And that's mostly been through, they have massively reduced their posting costs in a large part by using spots, by moving over to using spots.

But the tool that they said, you know, actually it's the AWS stuff is better than it used to be, this tooling, but none of it's enough for them to really do a FinOps flywheel and proof test and a tool that they were really, and this is, I've never used this tool, but they were raving about it with something called Cloud Zero.

And obviously I don't know them, I know nothing about them, but that appeared to be what they were using instead of good quality AWS stuff. Basically there are other tools out there that, and maybe that's why AWS and I really want AWS to keep the foot on the gas here, but there might be other tools coming out that do some of the job quite well.

Keep your eyes open for other tools.

Chris Adams: So I'm gonna come in here with a question, if that's okay to put to the two of you. And we have it written here. So let's say you're a customer of a cloud service provider, Amazon GCP, Azure, maybe OVH or ScaleWay, what do you actually need to have access to to effectively manage the environmental impact of digital services?

Like Asim I reckon, this was some of the stuff that we were struggling with the software carbon intensity for figuring out some of the inputs for this, and I'm sure. I reckon you might have some reckons for people to know what to ask for.

Asim Hussain: Yeah, this has been one of our first conversations on it Anne you were challenge. Yeah, the data. It's data. It's all the data problem, like speak, whether you calculate the standard that we are developing here, which is just for almost an internal metric for teams, a software co-, whether you're calculating a greenhouse gas footprint, whether you're doing an LCA, whatever it is, you need data.

And the big problem is there's very minimal data that's surfaced to customers. It's not granular enough the methodologies are challenging to understand how given the methodology of that calculation, how can it actually be merged and combined with other data sets. So just a lot more transparency around that.

And I also understand, I hear it from multiple sides, I understand it. It's sometimes quite challenges for organizations to reveal this data. I've even heard that at some point becomes such a contradiction where you could actually, some lawyers have said you're actually revealing materially non-public information about your company and that gain you trouble with the SCC.

There's, it's a very complicated space, but the truth through all that complexity is more transparent data is what we need.

Chris Adams: So there is one thing I will point you to and I'll add a link to this because one of the things I do where I work is we maintain a directory of kind of providers who share some of these numbers. OVH are probably one of the largest cloud providers. In 2020, they announced APIs for exposing both energy usage at an instant level, but also embedded carbon usage to figure these out numbers out.

So these are the ones that we've been looking for ages for the SCI and like some providers expose them as part of the service. This is like mind blowing for me when I found out about, I tried to chase it up cause I'm not a customer from 2020. This was, I found a.

Asim Hussain: they announced in 2020 or they

Chris Adams: It. It was announced in 2020. I'll share the link.

I'll share the post on LinkedIn where I was asking about it, because I'm not accustomed myself, so I don't know what the numbers look like. And honestly, this would be game-changing if that was actually something that was made available because it's just very difficult for people to actually have access to.

And at the moment, most of this is people making educated guesses or using various kinds of modeled approaches, which don't necessarily match reality. A lot of the time.

Asim Hussain: We will have to review that data and maybe we should come up with a. This of next podcast actually reviewing the data and then coming up with what we conclude rather than just being our guess guesses right now. But I would say one thing that comes up quite often is what we call measurement for reporting and measurement for action, and then large, again, one of the limitations that the hyperscalers have is because when they're actually giving that data, they're giving you from reporting perspective, which has different constraints and it's not so useful.

It's not useful almost at all. I'd say from a developer perspective or very limited, useful usefulness perspective. If OVH are giving that data, hopefully it's providing it at a level of granularity, which is more useful to software practitioners, but I would then question whether or not it's the kind of data which would be approved from a regulator perspective to using GHG calculations or something.

Anne Currie: So I think the SkyScanner experience is interesting in that the payoff of moving to spots is financially very impactful. So it's, yeah, in some ways, There's just tweaking and tuning a little bit, but if you make a radical change, sometimes that is quite apparent.

Asim Hussain: It's gonna make it very easy to compare and contrast versus OVH isn't it?

Chris Adams: So there's one thing I will just move on, just share one more link for us to maybe discuss the other time. There's a unimaginably titled Green Coding in Berlin, have a project called Cloud Energy, where they have basically put together some of these modeled ideas for this. Basically, look at this, the machine you're using, make some inferences about the provider, the number of calls and everything you have.

To give you some numbers for this and, uh, I think they're doing a bunch of really interesting stuff in this field and they're doing it with a very open license. So open that maybe companies might not wanna touch , they're going AGPL rather than GPL. And uh, some people were okay with that. Some people aren't, they treat it like it's radioactive.

Let's move on to the next story because Asim, we were talking a little bit about the fund that was Web 3.0, and this seems to be a thing that you might have some reckon on. Nori launches a Web three marketplace for offsets. So the story here is that Nori a US-based carbon removal marketplace. They've launched a Web 3.0 Marketplace specifically to essentially our people, what they call nori, carbon removal tons, so not NFTs, NRTs. And this seems to be something set up to allow you to purchase an offset and for want of a word, retire, make sure it can't be traded to someone else. That's the idea behind it, and I think this is partly in this has been shared because the Linux Foundation had a recent report on open source sustainable blockchains and, and I think you had some reckon about some of this that I might give some space to you or Asim can come in as the good cop to your immediate, your inevitable things to say here.

Anne Currie: Yeah, cuz I would say that blockchain is so horribly tainted with general evil and terrible behavior that I would not want to touch anything associated with it with a 10 foot pole. We were talking last week about greenwashing, and to be honest, this is an awful lot in the financial press about ESGs being effectively ethics washing.

This feels like an attempt to, ethicswash some aspect of blockchain, but I think there's the time. I think that the stable doors has truly is open on that one.

Chris Adams: Has been closed after it's been bolted. Yeah. Yeah.

Asim Hussain: Well, oh man. This whole space is so complicated because it also gets tainted with the whole blockchain emits lots of emissions aspect of as well, and it also gets tainted with, it's just a wild west of people getting money, getting stolen, left. I got lost in the rabbit hole of watching CoffeeZilla on YouTube.

He's this internet detector who just rips into all these NFT scams out there in the world. But one thing I did actually interview the founder of Nori for an old podcast I used to have called The Climate Fix like quite a few years ago, like before I even really knew what an NFT was, he was describing to me this really complex thing and I was like, oh, I, oh, he was explaining it to me, but it was linked to what you were saying, Chris, earlier on, he introduced me to this whole idea. I was actually unaware of the fact that these carbon offset credits can actually sit as a financial asset in your books and be traded, which, which was shocking to me.

So I could buy some credits this year, claim those credits, offset my carbon emissions this year. Next year sell the same credits to Anne, who could then claim those offsets for next year. But no one that goes historically back into my time and then says, well actually you don't have those credits for last year's.

And so what they were doing with the, I'm not not going into the Web 3.0, but the blockchain aspect of their work was the ability to verify that a credit has been retired, and therefore cannot be traded against. I would buy it and retire it. I then can't sell it. I can buy it, not retire it, sell it to Anne, but if I buy it and retire it, claim those credits against my emissions this year, I then can't sell it again.

It's my understanding of how it works.

Anne Currie: That seems like a perfectly reasonable idea, except that as is always the case with these blockchain things, there are other ways, other cheaper, and it doesn't have to be decentralized. Sometimes centralization is okay. If you had an authority that was saying yes, that is an okay carbon credit, which arguably we should have, we should have some kind of better standardization of carbon credit.

Chris Adams: When I read this, the thing I don't quite follow for some reason. So this is where the ultimate source of truth is for lots of these, because as I understand it, blockchains are good for making sure that if you've put something, you can be sure that it hasn't changed because you have this kind of chain of kind of custody.

You can see what the integrity of what might go all the way back, but in many cases, The actual kind of carbon removal parts are usually issued by a government somewhere. So you're not really trusting a blockchain, you're trusting a government. But what you're doing is, so in many cases you, there are a number of schemes where this has actually been issued.

You have, there is some organization which is issuing these kinds of credits, and then they might be put into a blockchain to then be traded around. That means that I haven't actually got rid of the problem of trust. I'm still trusting an external organization, and I haven't really seen a really convincing way around that when I've seen any kind of blockchain related tool.

I have to be honest, when I've looked at this, I'm still not totally sure who is actually, I'm trusting at this point here, and that feels like the thing that's ultimately worth looking into. And if you are interested in this, there is a report. The report is actually that this came from, it's actually not a bad word, it's not a bad read to be honest.

Asim Hussain: Yeah.

Anne Currie: I think it's unnecessary in this case to do that. You don't need it to be done that way. But the classic example of effective use of immutable ledgers is certificate revocation. Now in there you have a trust or authority, which is the authority that issued the certificate that then sits on the immutable ledger.

And when it's revoked, everybody can see straight away that it's been revoked. And it means that nobody, for example, the people who no one trusts, which his governments in this case can't go in and arse around with that certificate without anybody knowing that, that that's happened. So you've got that transparency, you've got the immutability, but you still have the trust of the person.

You've still got trust in that system, which is the person who issued the certificate, but you got protection from the person you are, you don't trust, which is the government. So you're right, but in this case, Chris, yeah, the government's in the chain . So what's the point?

Asim Hussain: I would say one statement, which is when I did interview the founder of Nori a couple years ago, at the end of my interview, I felt more convinced that they were on the right side. I just can't remember all the points right now. And I would probably link it into the show notes here. They were doing this before there was even a language around this kind of stuff.

So they, and I do remember specifically, there was a time I was like, oh my God. Yeah, another climate startup that's using blockchain. Are you just using the keywords to get the funding? And I know that was a feeling for a while as well, and we were having lots of conversations with people and then you dig into, you're like, this could be a database. This could be a database. This doesn't need to be block-. But then there were other time, and I think when I had that interview them, I was like, I remember feeling afterwards, okay, I see the argument for why this is a, this particular use case was important. So I will put that caveat out there. But then I'd also say, you should be asking me too much about blockchain.

Chris Adams: In fact,. we can actually ask them. The folks at Nori maintain a really good, quite an informative podcast. If you are particularly interested in this field, then it's common has been going for a good few years and I actually was introduced to a bunch of quite interesting ideas when I found it. Like the carbon takeback policy, which was an idea related to oil and gas firms.

The idea being that, okay, if oil and gas firm is gonna get some fossil fuels out the ground, they should be responsible for putting it back in the ground. Like they're able to make some money in the meantime, but they need to take on the actual responsibility to put it back if they're gonna do that. And that's the only circumstances by which they're allowed to work.

Now you have an immediate reaction to this.

Anne Currie: Well, I, it is an interesting point to make because I was saying that's the classic only reasonable use for an immutable blockchain is to protect from state level actors like the American government arseing around,

Asim Hussain: That's the,

Anne Currie: it's basically there to protect, protect people from the Amer, from American government, asking around with the.

Chris Adams: I thought the American government was there to bail you out when your bank fails. Yeah, I thought that's what you're supposed to do when you're with your libertarian projects.

Anne Currie: I don't think it's controversial. I think everybody knows that immutable blockchain in certificate revocation exists to make sure that no one, no matter how powerful i.e. The US government can ask anyone to muck around with a certificate, because if they do, it'll be obvious. It's people tying their own hands against they're states, people who might be putting pressure on them. Now, obviously states are state level actors, but to a certain extent there are fossil fuel companies that have so much money that they are effectively state level actors, and in fact, some the biggest ones are almost. Indistinguishable from state level actors.

So to a certain extent I can see that argument that you might need something super tough to protect everybody from an immutable ledger of some form, not necessarily blockchain, which is not one of the better ones to protect against some fossil fuel companies who have a load of power.

Asim Hussain: because if it was a database somewhere, if you had enough power, you can get it changed.

Anne Currie: indeed you can. You've got money to bribe people, to threaten people to do all kinds of things. The value of immutable blockchain immutable ledger for certificate revocation is that you can do it, you can change it, but everyone will be able to see, and I can see potentially that there might be something there where if you're protecting against fossil fuel companies.

Asim Hussain: So I just wanna say one thing on the next related article to this, which is why the Future Web three needs open source sustainable blockchains, which is a report from Linux Foundation Research, which is my colleagues, and Tamara, who's actually joined the foundation, was involved in this as well. One of the specific conclusions in the last paragraph, I think is relates to what we're saying, which is there was a deep need for standards and regulation for Web 3.0, the sustainable blockchain space needs standard transparency and accountability, especially regarding claims about carbon offsets and other efforts to benefit marginalized communities. ESG regulations, making carbon measurement reporting more important, and standardization regulation will help build and shape the Web 3.0 Space.

I'm all for standardization and I'm all for regulations, so this is, this is a good conclusion.

Chris Adams: Last word on the report, which is really surprising to me, but a nice surprise. This is the first report we've ever seen talking about Web 3.0 That actually talks about climate justice and actually talks about the different kinds. Of climate justice in there for actually put bringing that in. She talks about distributive justice, as in who's actually getting the benefits and the downsides.

Procedural justice, who's actually getting to make the decisions, and then rec recognition, who gets to say their cultures are valid or not valid? So to see that in a report, Quite a techy report. Wow. This is some kind of STS level stuff, like actually in actual interesting humanity stuff being added into there.

So it's not just total tech solutionism in in this and it's probably worth having a quick look if you are new to this and you're looking around there. Alright, we're just coming up to 10 minutes, uh, left in this. So we might wanna talk about some of the coming events actually, if you folks are okay with that.

Anne Currie: Mm-hmm.

Chris Adams: All right, so I see there's two things actually. There is QCon London Software Conference, uh, at the end of the month.

Anne Currie: Yeah, so I've helped organize this track cuz I've been involved QCon for years and years and it'll be hosted by Sarah Hsu, who is one of the key members of the Green Software Foundation. And our opening speaker will be Sara Bergman, who is another one of our key GSF folk. We'll also have. Holly Cummins, who used to be at IBM and is currently working on Java, I think Efficiency.

Adrian Cockcroft will have a little bit from the financial sector. Goldman Sachs are gonna come and talk. Basically it should be a really very interesting track. So if anybody who's at QCon London come along to the track, which will be on the last day on the Wednesday, and say hi to me and Sarah and Sara, we'll be very pleased to see.

Chris Adams: Excellence. That's March the. To March the 29th taking place in London, and there is a link to the conference that's taking place if you are prepared to walk out your house and go to an event without a mask on. That's it for our news and events roundup for this week. As part of this format, we have a closing question now that we ask our guests.

It's gonna be different every week, but this week the question is, if you could only use one sustainable software tool for the rest of your life, what would it be? And why?

Asim Hussain: Is this a tool that exists or doesn't exist because most of them don't exist.

Chris Adams: Come up with the perfect, yeah, the dream. What's your dream tool Anne? Doesn't have to exist.

Anne Currie: my dream tool is easy. It's obvious. I would pick this. hands down every time, and that tool is a whiteboard that when it comes to being green and doing any kind of stuff, it's design that really makes a difference. Can you come up with a green design that will totally swamp any improvements you make in an code efficiency or anything like that?

Operationally, what's your design? Do your thinking upfront and share it and discuss it and come up with the design of your system that will be greener. Yeah. Whiteboard always my favorite tool.

Chris Adams: Okay, there we have it. Whiteboard is the number one sustainable software tool for Anne. Currie. How about you Asim?

Asim Hussain: Do know what I was imagining in my head as I was talking? I was imagining like a whiteboard and actually touring your architecture on it. The whiteboard goes, oh, you sure mate? It's gonna cost ya, kind of whiteboard. That'd be a great whiteboard

Anne Currie: That would be a great

Chris Adams: Asim software tool is a whiteboard with a cockney accent like a taxi driver, giving you commentary as you design your system.

Asim Hussain: Like a sustainable software GPT.

Anne Currie: Yeah. Sucks its teeth.

Asim Hussain: Surface plugin for Yeah. Like, ah, I wouldn't, ah, I wouldn't pick that choice. Uh, yeah, I don't know. I think we're still really early days in, in any tooling in this space. I know there are some great tooling and I, and I spoke about earlier on in this episode.

There's the Eco Grader, which came from MightyBytes, I think. Oh, there's ones the Green, Web, Foundation makes as well, and there's this tool in which you can just put in like the URL of a website and it gives you a score. And I think that would be, I've seen the impact of stuff like that. The almost immediate feedback you get from that thing.

And in fact that's what measuring, so we need much, much better tools for measuring, like you mentioned stuff again, Chris, you mentioned earlier on, there's the Firefox tooling as well. There's lots, I think of really great toolings available right now for the Web developer, the front end experience primarily of our website.

There's very limited tooling for everybody else, and I think that this is what we need to get to. I think the next stage in all of this is just much better energy measurement tooling that just are various solutions out there. I want there to be an out of the box solution that works for everybody everywhere.

Whether you're in a virtualized environment where you do your bare metal, it will work if, even if you're running on a hyperscaler, whatever it is, it just gives you the numbers. And we are working on something like that in the foundation called the Carbon QL Project, which is just getting kicked off. But I'm quite excited for where that might head to in the future, but

Chris Adams: Oh, you can't tease us with that. Just at the end of the show, Asim.

Asim Hussain: Well it's just, there's only been two meetings on the project. I can't re-announce too

Chris Adams: so, so what? That's called carbon ql, and that'd be something we discussed at a future date then? Yes.

Asim Hussain: Carbon QL Graph QL.

Chris Adams: And I think that's everything for this episode of this Week in Green Software or The Week. in Green, Software. Cause we're not sure at what point this week becomes next week or last week. All the resources for this episode and more about the Green, Software Foundation are in the show description below.

If you're visiting this on the Green Software Foundation website, the website for the Green Software Foundation. Green software, one word foundation. And if you wanna go to the podcast, you can go to podcast.greensoftware.foundation. If you've enjoyed the show, please consider leaving a five star review on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, wherever you get your podcast.

And as ever, if you didn't really enjoy it, please leave a five star review. But tell us why you didn't want, why you wanted to give us a lower score and respond, and we'll try harder next time. Your feedback once again is very valuable. So please do comment on this and uh, once again, thanks for listening and see you on the next episode.


Asim Hussain: Awesome. Thanks all. Bye.

Chris Adams: Hey everyone. Thanks for listening. Just a reminder to follow Environment Variables on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get to your podcasts. And please do leave a rating and review if you like what we're doing. It helps other people discover the show. And of course, we'd love to have more listeners.

To find out more about the Green Software Foundation, please visit greensoftware.foundation. That's greensoftware.foundation In any browser. Thanks again and see you in the next episode.