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The Carbon Trust urges games industry to be consistent and transparent in its carbon emission reporting

Plus how the public can help.

Playing for the Planet header "Untangling the carbon complexities of the video gaming industry"
Image credit: The Carbon Trust / Eurogamer

A new report from the Carbon Trust, a UK-founded global consultancy which aims to drive positive climate change in businesses, has outlined best practice for the games industry to calculate its carbon emissions.

The report, in support of the Playing for the Planet alliance, was conducted with 10 video game companies over 12 months to explore their approaches to carbon accounting. It found the majority of emissions are either in goods and services (such as data centres) or energy used by video game products.

In addition to the guidelines for the industry, the report also includes steps the public can take to reduce the carbon impact of playing.

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Those steps include checking system settings to enable energy saving modes, trading in unused technology, aligning hardware and displays to avoid unnecessary energy consumption, using a TV or streaming stick for TV streaming rather than a console, purchasing used and refurbished devices, and considering the difference between digital download, streaming, and physical media.

For the industry, the report urges studios to calculate emissions, set science-based targets in alignment with the Paris Agreement, and to join networks to share best practice.

Further, the report has three specific requests: consistency in reporting emissions, granular results to allow for accurate benchmarking and insight, and transparency and completeness of reporting.

"Video games are unique in that they combine interactive storytelling, artistic expression and the latest technologies to create fun, challenging and engaging experiences," said Matt Anderson, the report's author. "All of this combines to make a complex landscape for video game businesses to understand and apply carbon accounting frameworks in a critical first step towards taking climate action. We hope that this report serves as a helpful way for businesses to level up to hit speed and scale in their climate action goals with players also engaged on this agenda."

Until now, there has been ambiguity in the way the industry reports its carbon emissions - such as accounting for the actual use of video games themselves - which the report seeks to address.

It also suggests further areas of research, such as the carbon footprint of advertising; next generation console design in setting energy profiles for the next decade; the role of video game engines; and the impact of emerging technologies like cloud gaming, AI, and blockchain.

The full report is available on the Playing for the Planet website.

Back in 2021, Eurogamer published its own report into what gaming's all-digital future means for the climate crisis.

The likes of Microsoft and Sony have also opened up about their carbon ambitions. PlayStation aims to be net zero carbon within the next decade, while earlier this year Xbox became the first console platform to offer developers measurement tools for real-time energy consumption of its games.

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