Microsoft makes carbon emissions-tracking dashboard generally available to cloud users

Microsoft is taking further steps to help users of its Azure public cloud platform decarbonise their IT infrastructure estates by releasing a dashboard that helps them track the carbon emissions generated by their use of its off-premise services.

The software giant has confirmed the Microsoft Emissions Impact Dashboard is now generally available, after making its debut as a preview release in January 2020, so users of its cloud services can now keep tabs on the environmental impact of their IT consumption habits.

The dashboard is intended to provide Microsoft users with insights into the greenhouse gas emissions generated by their cloud usage habits on a month-by-month and service-by-service basis. They can also use it to drill down into how hosting their workloads in a particular Microsoft cloud region could also affect their carbon footprint.  

“The tool also enables customers to enter unmigrated workloads and get an estimate of emission savings from migrating to the Microsoft cloud,” said the company in a blog post.

It also goes on to reveal details of the enhancements that Microsoft has made to the dashboard since it was first announced last year, including its decision to ensure it also includes details of the Scope 3 emissions associated with the use of its cloud services.

Scope 3 emissions, as defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, are those that are generated indirectly by activities – such as manufacturing, commuting, hardware disposal – that occur in an organisation’s wider value chain.

Scope 1 emissions are those generated by owned or controlled sources, whereas Scope 2 refer to indirect emissions brought about by energy and heating purchases.

Activities that fall under the Scope 3 category are usually the largest source of emissions for companies, but also among the most difficult to track and quantify, said Microsoft.

But including them in the dashboard should help users get more “complete and accurate” view of their emissions and – in turn – help them make “better decisions about sustainability”, it added.

During its time in preview, the offering has been deployed by a number of Microsoft customers, the company said, including information and analytics group RELX who have incorporated its functionality into its own Azure-based CO2.Hub services so it can keep tabs on Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

Consumer food developer Bühler Group has also used the dashboard to curb its Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions as part of its goal to become a carbon neutral entity by 2030, said Microsoft.

“With the Emissions Impact Dashboard, Bühler has determined Scope 3 emissions associated with its Microsoft cloud services in a format that’s easy to track and compile, adding to a more accurate view of their overall Scope 3 emissions,” it added.

Microsoft is far from alone in wanting to offer customers an insight into the environmental impact of their cloud consumption habits, as Google Cloud has also announced that it is to offer all users of its public cloud access to carbon emissions data pertaining to their usage of it.