Last Friday, Ubisoft’s director of corporate environmental sustainability, Nicolas Hunsinger, posted an announcement about the company’s 2020-2021 carbon footprint and its future agenda to fight climate change. Within the post, Hunsinger goes into great depth about how Ubisoft’s developers use real-world locations as inspiration for the video game landscapes they create, like Riders Republic containing several maps inspired by American National Parks. Unlike virtual worlds, Ubisoft claims there is no alternative “Planet B”; therefore, “Ubisoft is taking concrete actions to help safeguard our planet and its environment” from climate change.
This concrete action Ubisoft has taken to preserve the planet are rather contradictory to Hunsigner’s premise. First, Hunsinger exclaims that Ubisoft’s carbon footprint decreased by 14% between 2020 and 2021. In 2020, Ubisoft’s reported carbon footprint was 158 kilotons CO2 equivalent, 8.4 tCO2e per employee; and, in 2021, the company’s carbon footprint reduced to 148 kilotons of CO2e, 7.2 tCO2e per employee. After presenting this celebratory information, Hunsinger then asserts, “this reduction was mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lower marketing expenses. As circumstances were extraordinary, we cannot consider these achievements to be permanent.”
So while not entirely concrete as Hunsinger implied; however, Ubisoft is taking major steps to reduce their carbon footprint by another 10% by 2024. First, Hunsinger admitted the vast majority, 58%, of Ubisoft’s carbon footprint is caused by people purchasing their products as a result of Ubisoft’s marketing, which will likely not change due to the possibly of negatively affecting Ubisoft’s revenue. Hunsinger states, “improving how we measure and understand [marketing and subcontracting] emissions remains a key challenge for any publishing company.” Despite this lack in change, Ubisoft is transitioning more towards renewable energy sources powering their offices and data centers, resulting in a large majority of their power stemming from renewable energy sources. Lastly, Ubisoft has researched and implemented technology to improve the life cycles for their hardware, which has also resulted in a lower carbon footprint.
While Ubisoft is taking some definitive steps to combat climate change, it also calls into question why the company is investing so heavily into blockchain ecosystems, which are notoriously harmful for the environment due to data-mining releasing vast amounts of CO2. Blockchain verifications are slowly moving away from “proof of work,” the most environmentally harmful variation of proof of ownership; however, other variations of proof of ownership still require decent amounts of energy. Furthermore, even by Ubisoft switching more towards renewable energy sources for power, the company is still endorsing and promoting the environmentally harmful processes and hardware needed to build and use for computers to data-mine.