Talk:Sustainability

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Congratulations![edit]

This is a big milestone. --Gnom (talk) Let's make Wikipedia green! 14:26, 19 September 2019 (UTC)

Indeed, thank you. It was not very nice to hijack the title which used to be a redirect, though. Nemo 16:46, 19 September 2019 (UTC)
Thank you Gnom. --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)

Real estate[edit]

Can you provide more information on the statement that "Green building features are already in place through property management"? Is it just referring to the "LEED Gold" certification mentioned in Wikimedia Foundation headquarters? That's not especially useful for an international audience: it would be more interesting to hear about exact figures such as kWh/m²-y. Nemo 16:46, 19 September 2019 (UTC)

Yes Nemo, the green building features mentioned are in reference to the LEED Gold certification of the WMF headquarters. LEED is a certification program utilized internationally. The WMF-specific carbon footprint results are shown in the report starting on page 19. --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
Table with consumption by area
I assume you mean this sentence: «Post Montgomery Center – Total Building Consumption Information prorated for WMF % of total area» and the table on p. 30 which reports 15,541.17 kWh gas plus 238,695.34 kWh electricity for the Wikimedia Foundation headquarters, while pp. 27-28 provide some legend and square feet figures?
Thank you, but that still doesn't provide a clear figure understandable for an international audience. Writing clearly implies some effort to avoid USA-specific jargon.
Of course I can calculate myself that the provided information implies an energy consumption of 144 kWh/m²-year. I could mention that a standard like ClimateHouse gives its third best rating to buildings under 50 kWh/m²-year, but these figures are not directly comparable. So I reiterate the request that you provide appropriate calculations yourself.
It's not something I ask for my benefit: it's for WMF's benefit. WMF should have done its homework to have an understandable and comparable figure before placing highly questionable statements such as "Green building features are already in place" in its blog posts. Looking at the real numbers helps avoid embarrassments. Nemo 10:31, 3 October 2019 (UTC)

Carbon offsetting[edit]

I’m curious if WMF has considered buying forest to offset some co2? 2.1 kilotons could be offset with Maybe 1-2000 acres of forest:

“A fifty-year-old forest on average absorbs .8 metric tons of carbon per acre per year. A 65 year old forest 1.6 metric tons per acre per year.”

Source: http://www.forestecologynetwork.org/climate_change/sequestration_facts.html

Victorgrigas (talk) 18:29, 19 September 2019 (UTC)

Thank you for sharing this Victorgrigas. WMF is committed to exploring options which will lead to the reduction or offsetting of our carbon emissions. --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)

Climate action[edit]

I find WikimediaFoundation.org participating in Global Climate Strike to be very hypocritical considering WMF has done nearly nothing so far to put its own house in order. How can you join a climate strike while holding 157,000 $ of the Wikimedia Endowment in ExxonMobil (1.1 % of 33 %)? We look ridiculous. I'm ashamed. Nemo 10:00, 20 September 2019 (UTC)

Nemo, WMF has made incremental changes over the years to set the stage for sustainable change including:
  • Implementing board resolutions for environmental impact
  • Completing a publically-released Foundation-wide assessment to analyze our sustainability strengths/weaknesses
  • Identifying actionable steps which will position us for meaningful change
  • Internally aligning and dedicating staff resources to work on the effort --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
Yes, I know all of this. It still doesn't remove the anti-climate action in the meanwhile, most notably the investment in fossil industries. Nemo 10:04, 3 October 2019 (UTC)

Please publish the total number of executive flights per month[edit]

Let's be honest, the CEO is famous for her high consumption of aircraft travel.[1] Just changing the behaviour of the CEO would make a dramatic difference to the damage the WMF is doing today to the global climate.

Please make a start this year, now, by being transparent and open about how many aircraft flights the WMF management team are consuming per month. Without these verifiable numbers being published, there is no real commitment, just nice phrases like "we will consider", "we will seek", not "we will act".

Thanks -- (talk) 13:30, 20 September 2019 (UTC)

, We will not be publishing the number of executive flights per month. The travel metrics shared in the assessment evaluated the entire Foundation and were not focused on specific individuals. Our commitment to transparency is evidential with our release of the assessment. --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
A couple of facts:
  1. No trend has been published. Metrics are meaningless without a trend.
  2. There has been no commitment to reduce international flights that the executive team are publicly known for. International flights are the most damaging single activity that WMF employees can do in terms of climate change.
  3. Summary estimates by consultants are neither verifiable measurements, nor a meaningful commitment to transparency.
I expected better, and still hope that the WMF management team might aim to do something less "political" when it comes to addressing the published WMF policies on being green.
Thanks for making a reply. -- (talk) 11:26, 1 October 2019 (UTC)

Gnom's initial questions about the report[edit]

Over the weekend, I had a first look at the report and tried to update the Sustainability Initiative page with the new data. Elitre also asked me to prepare a summary for the Wikimedia Space blog. As a result, I would like to ask the following questions:
Gnom, answers to your questions are as follows: --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)

  • On p. 72, how does the assessment define 'renewable energy' when talking about the electricity sources for the servers? In other words, does the definition include biofuels or not?
Yes, biofuels are included in the 'renewable energy' category. --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
  • On p. 74 et seq., how does the assessment interpret a server site such as 'esams' in Amsterdam that runs on a deregulated, mixed-source grid where the site operator has opted to only buy renewable energy? Is this server counted as '100% renewable' and why (not)?
Page 72 describes how the electricity emission factors were selected. Ideally, the best option is to receive actual invoices from each energy provider to calculate a site-specific emission factor. For this project, this wasn't the case. Also, as shown on page 28, "8 Data Centers were reported. eGrid emission factors were selected based upon publicly available data for each Data Center location. For Data Centers reporting 100% renewable grid-mixes – data was not available for their specific grid-mix. It may be that they’re actually purchasing RECs to offset their emissions. The server room at WMF headquarters is metered separately, data was provided for that meter by the chief building engineer of Post Montgomery." --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Because the sustainability assessment document does not use the WMF letterhead, I'm wondering how 'official' its contents are: Reading the status reports for the 'environmental sustainability' programme in the 2018 annual plan, I have the impression that pp. 37-66 of the sustainability assessment constitute the Wikimedia Foundation's 'sustainability roadmap'. Is this understanding correct, meaning is this an 'official' WMF roadmap, or rather just a proposal for one? I think there's already been some confusion about this point among some French Wikipedians.
The assessment and subsequently released summary were commissioned specifically by WMF for the purposes of establishing a baseline of our environment impact and position us for future improvements. The assessment does not use the WMF letterhead as it was created by Sustainable Sustainability Consulting (SSC). Pp 37-66 reflect the recommendations that SSC proposed for the Foundation; the official roadmap has not yet been created. --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Does the 2019 annual plan contain any language about sustainability? I am asking in part because of the 2017 board resolution and so that I can understand how work on this issue will continue.
The current 2019 annual plan does not contain language about sustainability. However, the following updates will be proposed in our upcoming quarterly foundation assessment to reflect the following actions we’ve committed to this fiscal year (FY19/20):
- Create a sustainability policy statement, definition, and context of what sustainability means.
- Develop a sustainability framework with roles and responsibilities, including operations, events, and technical infrastructure.
- Identify and track green key performance indicators. Create a reporting template and schedule for aggregating, validating and communication of results.--LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)

Thanks a lot! --Gnom (talk) Let's make Wikipedia green! 19:12, 22 September 2019 (UTC)

I've made the mistake. I was too much concentrate on the data, and not enough on the title of the slide! P.46 is clear that it is still a recommendation. Pyb (talk) 13:23, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
Pyb, can you please clarify if you have a question? We believe your response may have been to Gnom’s question regarding the official WMF roadmap. The official roadmap has not yet been created. --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2019 (UTC)

Suggestion 10: communication[edit]

"Internal (Google Docs, Slack, etc.)"

I understand that some suggestions are canned responses prepared for organisations with values which differ drastically from the Wikimedia movement's, but just to be clear: it's not appropriate to recommend proprietary software venues for communication, such as Google Docs and Slack. Only free software is an option. FLOSS-Exchange shows what solutions the Wikimedia entities are using. Nemo 12:11, 3 October 2019 (UTC)

Focus on the mission[edit]

Wikipedia's positive impact on environmental issues far out weighs its carbon footprint. To begin with, one might quantify its impact on the market for paper encyclopedias and other reference works: fewer trees cut down, less paper making, printing and distribution impacts. But far more important is Wikipedia impact in providing a source of fact based information on climate and other environmental issues, where public debate (at least in the U.S.) has been poisoned by highly politicized positions on both sides (it's a socialist plot on the right, we're all gonna die on the left). Rather than spending WikiMedia's limited resources on projects that will have at best an infinitesimal impact on the world's environment, I suggest the foundation redouble its effort on Wikipedia's core mission which can have a significant net effect.

Specifically, there are a huge number of articles in en:Category:Renewable energy by country, and its subcategories, along with their non-English counterparts. Many of these articles were written with great enthusiasm years ago and filled with data on the then current situation in their locale (down to individual states in the U.S.), but may no longer reflect what is happening now. Finding ways to encourage regular updates of these articles would be far more useful than micro-analyzing Wikimedia's utility bills. Wikimedia might, for example, develop grants to encourage university programs in environmental science to adopt articles dealing with their geographic area, and update them whenever new statistics are published. Another possibility would be to work with Wikidata to develop standard templates for environmental data that could be transcluded in articles in different languages. I'm sure there are lots of other possibilities.

The potential impact of better coverage of environmental issues on Wikipedia would exceed the impact of marginal changes in Wikipedia's office practices by orders of magnitude.--ArnoldReinhold (talk) 17:48, 3 October 2019 (UTC)

Organizational support for climate related content[edit]

Climate related articles are very badly out of date.

Most of the serious, substantive content I'm now seeing added to climate related articles appears to come from WikiEd classes. (This is based on doing assessment, cleanup, and gnoming for WP Environment, Climate change, Soil, and Agriculture).

Editathons, while helpful, are not sufficient for generating more complex content that requires informed individuals.

WikiEd focus needed[edit]

A WikiEd focus on climate-related articles is the most likely way to ensure high quality, current content about climate.

Understanding climate impact requires a broad approach, that extends beyond the science and policy of climate/envronment/ecology. Agriculture and human migration are also important areas of coverage.

Recommendation for Wikipedians in Residence[edit]

  • 2 WIR focused on climate change/environment/ecology

Goal-- Work with WikiEd, scientific and policy organizations to update content, add citations. In addition to updating outdated information, we need survey articles for climate change / mitigation / adaptation at the country, state, and provincial levels.

  • 2 WIR focused on agriculture

Goal-- Work with WikiEd, agricultural, scientific and policy organizations to update content, add citations. Create overview articles of agriculture at the state and province level. Add articles for plant species and crops useful in carbon mitigation. Add information to livestock articles about carbon mitigation techniques. Partner with organizations working on soil health and conservation to improve these articles.

  • 2 WIR focused on displaced persons and humanitarian aid

Goal-- Work with WikiEd, NGO, government, and policy organizations to update content and add citations. Create and update overview articles for displaced persons in each country. Create and update articles to provide full coverage of all the world's refugee camps. Create and update articles about humanitarian aid efforts worldwide, and add this information to cities, towns, and provinces, especially in Africa.

Access to information resources[edit]

  • Partnerships with universities and information vendors are necessary in order to access the factual content in this area. This can be WikiEd, Wikipedia Library.
  • Editathons can provide some on-site access to institutional content, and enable editors to meet each other, but aren't a substitute for WikiEd and Wikipedia Library.
  • Significant journal articles and e-books are often behind paywalls. Scientific books on climate can be very expensive. High quality climate articles will not write themselves without institutional support.

Governmental and non-governmental organizations[edit]

In some areas, such as agriculture and sanitation, the only survey information available will be from government agencies, or from organizations like the World Bank and development agencies.

Working with these organizations to create content and encourage release of information into the public domain may be necessary.

Conclusion - GLAM a possible model[edit]

Just as Wiki is expanding into coordinated efforts in the GLAM content area, similar efforts will be needed to ensure quality content in climate-related content. The GLAM efforts may have some useful models for how to proceed with climate content.

Thank you for your consideration! Oliveleaf4 (talk) 15:34, 6 October 2019 (UTC)

Hotel stays[edit]

Thanks for the Signpost article. I'm curious at the ratio between 26% air travel and 11% hotel stays. My understanding was that air travel, especially if any of it is long haul business class, is very very carbon intensive, hotels, usually not so much, so I'm surprised that the hotel proportion is that large in comparison. Especially as many of those hotel stays were presumably short... Is that 11% figure correct? Could it be reduced by choosing more eco friendly hotels/venues? Could we reduce the carbon footprint of Wikimania by comparing the carbon footprint of different location options? (Disclosure: I have been to several Wikimanias). WereSpielChequers (talk) 17:43, 7 October 2019 (UTC)

Response to feedback shared on this page and Signpost[edit]

Hello All,
I’m making a specific point to tag everyone that has chimed in regarding the topic of Sustainability either on this talk page or the 2019-09-30 Signpost article. Gnom, Nemo, Victorgrigas, , Pyb, ArnoldReinhold, Oliveleaf4, WereSpielChequers, Maury Markowitz, Bri.public, Sophivorus, 73.222.1.26, Kudpung กุดผึ้ง, Carrite, agr, Clayoquot, ©Geni, Qwirkle

I get it. You may be frustrated, angry, irritated, disappointed, or generally just feeling let down by the Foundation as it relates to Sustainability (and you may feel the same way about other initiatives we either are/have/or will be working on...but I’ll stick to the topic at hand). There are commitments we’ve made in the past that we’ve dropped the ball on - including easily achievable ones like including sustainability in this fiscal year’s annual plan. Yes. That was a miss. And one that I will correct in our upcoming quarterly review of the Foundation.

You may also feel that the release of the Foundation’s sustainability assessment was a step in the right direction, but want to see more action. I cannot stress enough that the constructive feedback you’re sharing is not falling on deaf ears. So I want to plainly, and in “non-political speak”, address the points that have been shared.

To my understanding, never in the history of the Foundation have we directly assigned a department the responsibility of defining foundation-wide sustainability baselines and practices to reduce our CO2 emissions...until literally a month ago. (Again, yes, you may be thinking, “Really? That’s unacceptable!”...but bear with me.) That responsibility now sits squarely on the shoulders of our Operations department working in tandem with staff across other departments that are all deeply committed to sustainability.

Our team working on this is not a large one (in fact right now, we’re a team of two - myself and m:User:DTankersley (WMF)), and while we can’t make sweeping decisions to instantly resolve this issue, e.g. build a 100% green data center, or purchase enough credits to offset our entire CO2 output, or stop any staff member from flying ever again - we can commit to establishing a standard: “drawing a line in the sand” to define baselines, sharing more information when available and, making specific recommendations for the Foundation to take action on. Also, in the spirit of transparency, this is not our only job; both Deb and I have other responsibilities. Just like you, we have competing priorities day to day that we have to juggle. This means I’m setting the expectation up front - we won’t be able to 24x7 monitor this page and immediately respond to every single comment at a moment’s notice. But, we can take a snapshot of where we stand right now, and commit to providing responses by a specific date.

So as I read through the commentary, here is what I see that you are requesting us to do, all with the intent of reducing the Foundation’s CO2 output:

  • Provide exact output figures, for example kWh/m²-y to provide more information about our electricity use
  • Shift some of our endowment investments to holdings that do not have sustainable conflict
  • Publish the total number of executive flights per month
  • Ensure when we’re making software recommendations that we are also making best efforts to align with the Movement’s standard of utilizing free and open software
  • Encourage more contributions and grooming/editing of articles in the Renewable Energy category
  • Make a point to not avoid questions, and respond in a timely manner
  • Provide a calculation of how much net CO2 output is produced, or prevented, by the Foundation’s distributed staff model
  • Provide a trending report of our CO2 output on a regular basis
  • Publish an environmental impact statement in annual plans going forward
  • Offer remote presentations at Wikimania
  • Provide clarification on the travel metrics shared in the sustainability assessment

Here is our commitment to the Community: We will explore the requests that you have put forth and commit to following up with responses, and justification if needed, by December 13th. Why am I picking a date out that far into the future? Because one of the items we’re actively working through is bringing a sustainability consultant onboard to work through these items with the Foundation, and consultancies require both financial and legal sign-offs which are not overnight processes. Furthermore, we need time to collect information and assess what is actually possible to accomplish.

But, does all this mean that you will be happy, pleased, satisfied with every response we give you? Likely not. But as with any discourse and discussion, there are points that can be agreed upon, eg. we need to take swift action on sustainability. And there are points that can be debated upon, eg. what that swift action exactly looks like.

My last point is this - I understand that this is a hot button topic given the critical nature. But that does not, and will not ever, excuse rudely attacking Deb or myself. To suggest that we should personally feel embarrassed, ashamed, or are attempting to skirt the issue is misguided, ineffective, and unnecessary. We want to be in dialogue with you and do our absolute best to solve this problem; attacking us isn’t the way to go about it.

Again, I thank you for all of the constructive requests that you have put forth. And you will hear from us again on December 13th, at which time we’ll be able to resume practical conversation on the topic of the Foundation and Sustainability on this page.

Lydia --LHamilton (WMF) (talk) 17:07, 10 October 2019 (UTC)

Thanks Lydia - a very sensible response, particularly given that some of the comments directed your way on the Signpost article were downright unacceptable. It'd be great to see what the WMF can do more of in this area.
One concrete area where there's probably a quick win in reducing emissions, albeit marginally, is probably in travel booking. My experience (admittedly, based on only one occasion) is that if you try to book public transport rather than use the WMF's travel agency is that you get offered reimbursement up to a $ amount benchmarked against the lower end of the flight cost range. This seems fair enough, but trains are often slightly more expensive than the cheapest flights (though less expensive when the costs of getting to and from airports is taken into account, which the process doesn't take account of). Maybe that process could be a bit more flexible to encourage more use of public transport? Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 13:35, 11 October 2019 (UTC)