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As one of the major Chinese Internet companies at the forefront of environmental trends, Tencent has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality in its own operations and supply chain, and to use green power for 100% of all electricity consumed by 2030, contributing to the global push in fighting climate change. 

By taking its social responsibility seriously and leveraging the power of internet technology, the Chinese company, owner of the powerful social network platform WeChat and many commercially successful gaming products including Arena of Valor and Peacekeeper Elite, is focused on not only internal measures to curb emissions, but also encouraging consumers and business partners to recognize the challenge of climate change and to join hands to tackle the issue.

“Achieving carbon neutrality is complex and requires us to consider both social values and business logic,” said Tencent Chairman Pony Ma in the firm’s roadmap to carbon neutrality report, which was made public earlier this year. Tencent believes that achieving carbon neutrality is not only the company’s responsibility as a global technology leader, but also an essential requirement for the company’s development and to realize its vision of “tech for good,” said Ma.

According to its net-zero roadmap, Tencent will prioritize the use of active emission-reduction measures while keeping the use of carbon offsets to a minimum. The company will focus on improving the energy efficiency of its data centers, actively participate in the transition to sustainable energy and the establishment of related markets, and continue to explore technological innovations in the field of carbon offsets.

Meanwhile, Tencent will also use digital technologies and platforms to encourage society to embrace sustainable and low-carbon consumption, facilitating a low-carbon transformation across industries, and promoting sustainable economic and social development.

Commitment to internal efforts

Even before Tencent announced its net-zero roadmap, the company had already long been promoting internal emission cuts and a low-carbon lifestyle among consumers.

Tencent has several buildings that obtained LEED Gold certification. The roof of the Tencent Binhai Building in Shenzhen and the surrounding paving stones consist of water-absorbing sponge bricks that help to recycle and reuse rainwater, thereby reducing consumption of tap water for greenery and restrooms. This is the first “sponge building” in the country. In addition, the orientation, curtain wall and shutters of the building are specially designed to maximize the use of natural light and reduce the power consumption of internal lighting. In 2020, by implementing energy-efficiency measures such as optimizing air conditioning controls, the Binhai Building saved 5.98 GWh of electricity and reduced emissions by the equivalent of about 2,690 tons of carbon dioxide compared with 2019.

Tencent developed its fourth-generation T-Block technology for data centers, lowering Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) to as little as 1.06. The company also applied emerging technologies such as natural cooling, liquid cooling, tri-generation, water-heat recovery and AI algorithms to boost cooling efficiency and reduce the power consumption of its data centers, a main source of carbon emissions from internet technology companies. Rooftop solar cells were installed at its data centers. To date, more than 80 MW of distributed new energy projects are either in operation or under construction and the annual power output of these projects after completion is expected to exceed 80 GWh.

Tencent is also an active player in China’s green power trading market. In 2022, the company signed sustainable power trading contracts for a total of 504 GWh, meaning the actual transaction volume of mid- and long-term agreements in several of its large data centers accounts for 43.5% of their annual electricity consumption. Among them, Tencent Qingcheng Data Center in Guangdong uses renewable energy for 100% of its annual electricity needs. Tencent is exploring centralized renewable-energy power plants, with a focus on onshore wind and solar technologies, as well as emerging power-generation methods such as offshore wind power.

Tencent's Binhai Building in Shenzhen.

Leading consumers to adopt a green lifestyle

In addition to achieving its own carbon-neutrality goals, Tencent also aims to act as a helper and connecter by taking the initiative in assisting the low-carbon transformation of society and supporting emerging low-carbon technologies. 

Digital technology can promote industrial advancement and low carbon economic development via efficiency improvements, widespread connectivity, and other benefits. Tencent’s ecosystem connects with a broad segment of consumers, who are themselves practitioners of a low-carbon lifestyle. Shared business and consumer efforts will drive the low-carbon transformation of society. 

Tencent is deeply rooted in the consumer internet and has many internet products that are familiar to Chinese and other consumers. Its business ecosystem connects massive numbers of consumers whose choices directly or indirectly affect the carbon neutrality of broader society. Based on its wide reach, Tencent realized that it has the responsibility to advocate for a new low-carbon lifestyle. To this end, the company launched a series of internet products with the hope of simplifying the complex and specialized topic of carbon neutrality, introducing the concept of a low carbon lifestyle through lively and entertaining interactions.

Its WeChat platform actively promoted emission cuts and low-carbon lifestyle through popularizing digital payments in various scenarios across China, including cable fees, metro tickets, gas station and hospital payments, as well as online donations, and therefore significantly reducing paper consumption. In the past 5 years, the reduction of paper consumption after being replaced by digital transaction through WeChat has resulted in a total of 188,200 tons of carbon emission reductions.  

In 2021, Tencent partnered with the Publicity and Education Center of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment to launch a carbon neutrality Q&A mini program on WeChat, helping users learn about carbon neutrality and contribute to related charities during the experience. As of January 2022, 7.7 million users took part in the mini quiz in the program, and each time they answer one question correctly, the Tencent Charity Foundation makes a donation to support programs to protect grasslands and forests. 

The interactivity and immersion of games, one of Tencent’s core businesses, make them an effective tool to spread low-carbon awareness and educate the public. This year, Tencent launched a charity game called Carbon Island that simulates a city’s progress toward net-zero, helping to raise awareness of a low-carbon lifestyle among the public. Meanwhile, Tencent Games Timi Studio Group was invited by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNDP) to join the Playing for the Planet Alliance. Since 2021, the environmental protection content in Timi games has reached 110 million players and helped them better understand climate challenges. 

As a technology enterprise, Tencent believes that digitalization is where it can play a big role in the low-carbon transformation of various industries. Companies cannot achieve low-carbon operation without efficient and convenient online office tools. In 2019, Tencent launched its Tencent Meeting/VooV video conferencing product. Since then, the product has resulted in the cumulative reduction of more than 15 million tons of carbon emissions. Along with the rapid development of digital products, demand for digital infrastructure is also increasing across society. The transition of traditional IT infrastructure to cloud computing has improved the efficiency of resource utilization and offered another potential avenue to reduce emissions. Moreover, the variety of measures Tencent has taken to reduce emissions at its data centers has not only helped progress toward carbon neutrality in its own operations and supply chain, but has also provided low-carbon computing power and helped Tencent’s clients reduce their own carbon footprints.

As a digital technology company, the significance of Tencent’s carbon neutrality strategy lies not only in its own energy conservation and emissions reductions, but also in leveraging carbon neutrality to drive scientific research, technological development, and applied innovation, ultimately helping the rapid development of low-carbon technology. In addition, Tencent will innovate and integrate the consumer and industrial internet, continue to popularize low-carbon lifestyles, and promote the transformation and improvement of traditional industries, all while promoting the sustainable development of the local and shared global economies.

Main picture: Tencent's Data Center Roof Photovoltaic

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