Are tech companies finally reducing their emissions?

Cathleen Berger
3 min readOct 3, 2023

The landscape of climate and sustainability reporting has been changing. The European Union’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) entered into force in 2023 with first reports due in early 2024. Similar standards are being negotiated and adopted in various jurisdictions, which means that more and more companies now fall under mandatory transparency reporting schemes.

Importantly, this also includes many of the big tech players whose climate pledges and environmental reports I have been scrutinising over the last few years.

Question now, again, is: Does the increased transparency translate into data-driven action to improve, reduce emissions, and minimise their impact?

Here’s the tl;dr of what I found in the 2022 data:

2022 amount of million mtCO2e | change Year over Year (YoY)
Alibaba 12.25 | ?
Amazon 71.2 | 🟡
Apple 20.6 | 🟢
Google 10.18 | 🟡
Meta 14 | 🛑
Microsoft 13 | 🟡
Tencent 5.74 | 🛑


Alibaba is a a major tech player, and they seem to revamp their ESG reporting with more information available in English now. Their 2023 report accounts for 4.681 million metric tons (MmtCO2e) in scope 1 and 2. Scope 3 is only published as an intensity factor, accounting for 8.7 mtCO2e per million spent.

The 200 page-report is heavy on the narrative/marketing side, which makes extracting the actual data quite challenging. Alibaba themselves claim to have reduced their emissions by 12.9% compared to the 2022 report. Even the metrics table at the end only indicates net emissions (after offsets), which they put at 12.25 MmtCO2e for all three scopes.


Amazon contiues to be one year behind in their reporting. The latest available environmental report is from 2022, covering their 2021 impact. In it, they account for 71.2 MmtCO2e, which is a 0.4% decrease to 2020 but 18% above 2019.


For 2022, Apple reports 20.6 MmtCO2e in gross emissions, which amounts to around 11% in reductions compared to 2021.

65% of those come from product manufacturing, 24% from product use and 9% from product transport. The importance of supply chains (scope 3 emissions) again being crystal clear — and fortunately, these impacts receive a lot of attention in terms of the company’s projected action plan, too.

Google (Alphabet)

Overall reported emissions: 10.18 MmtCO2e — a reduction of 1.2 million compared to their 2021 data, however, the report itself points out that the reduction is also due to a methodology change for their value chain emissions. Therefore, they refrain from indicating a percentage decrease.

As last year, it still puzzles me that parent company Alphabet does not publish an overarching report for all its ventures, including YouTube, Jigsaw, Google and more. Instead, this report really only covers, Google — a fraction of what makes one of the biggest tech companies in the world. Though, positively, Google now publishes the energy efficiency factors (so called “PUE”) for each of its data centres, which used to be a major obstacle for Google Cloud Clients in determining their own emissions related to cloud services.


Overall reported emissions in 2022: 14 MmtCO2e across all three scopes, with scope 3 accounting for 99% of Meta’s impact. This is an increase of almost 4 MmtCO2e compared to 2021.

Meta now also details emissions for their data centers and various aspects of their water usage — a helpful step forward in terms of transparency and understanding their actual impact, which was still missing in last year’s report.


Microsoft is definitely one of the more visible and seemingly ambitious players out there when it comes to promising emissions reductions and climate positive impacts. In their 2022 report, Microsoft accounts for app. 13 MmtCO2e across all three scopes — which is a mere decrease of 0.06 million mt compared to 2021. Almost 97% of their emissions fall under scope 3 with purchased goods and services (47%), capital goods (31%), and use of products (10%) leading the list.


Tencent first published a climate roadmap (in English) in 2021, outlining a path to carbon neutrality by 2030. Then, Tencent accounted for 5.111 million mtCO2e with 53.7% in scope 3 emissions. In 2022, emissions amounted to 5.74 MmtCO2e, a slight increase rather than reduction.

Their reporting now seems more aligned with the SBTi and other international reporting frameworks, which makes it easier to assess.

It’s a slightly better outlook than what I found last year in the 2021 data (results available here), and still emissions are not getting reduced at the scale and speed necessary.

I will say, though, that I am very glad to see more attention directed towards data centers, their energy, land, and water usage — an improvement in the reporting over the years. Now, it’s time to follow through.



Cathleen Berger

Strategy expert, focusing on the intersection of technology, human rights, global governance, and sustainability