Ant Group, the fintech affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, achieved operational carbon neutrality (Scope 1 & 2) in 2022 for the second consecutive year through a combination of reduction, substitution and offset measures.
This achievement, backed up by figures certified by the China Environmental United Certification Center, marks another step for Ant towards fulfilling its pledge, made in March 2021, to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across Scope 1, 2 and 3 by 2030.
In 2022, after reductions and substitutions, Ant’s greenhouse gas emissions for Scope 1 and 2 totalled 21,087.93 tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent (CO2e), which were fully offset by the company’s purchase of carbon credits from a verified carbon standard project, namely the CECIC Gansu Yumen Changma No 3 Wind Farm Project.
Ant reduced a total of 68,665.35 tonnes of CO2e across Scope 1, 2 and 3 in 2022, up 81% from 37,909.87 tonnes in 2021. This is equivalent to taking more than 28,000 cars off the road each year, assuming each car is driven 12,000 kilometres per year at 0.203 kilogramme of CO2e per kilometre.
This reduction was mainly due to the implementation of green computing technologies. These technologies reduced about 62,000 tonnes of CO2e, which accounted for more than 99% of all carbon emissions reduced in Scope 3 during 2022. This was a 110% improvement over the 30,000 tonnes of CO2e that green computing technologies reduced in 2021.
Ant Group has been developing and adopting green computing technologies since 2019. These technologies include green artificial intelligence (AI), a series of technologies, such as elastic management, graphics processing unit (GPU) memory pooling and virtualization, that make large-scale model training more efficient.
For example, ATorch, Ant Group's PyTorch extension library, can double the utilization rate of AI computing power in large GPU cluster configurations compared with Megatron-DeepSpeed, an opensource deep learning optimization software suite. The use of ATorch has led to energy efficiency gains and carbon emission reductions for AI model training operations, which the company uses to run its AI-based products and services for better customer experience
Ant also uses other green computing technologies – such as online-offline hybrid deployment, cloud-native time-shared scheduling, AI-based auto scaling and OceanBase enterprise-level distributed relational databases – to help improve energy efficiency of data centres.
In 2022, Ant Group joined the Low Carbon Patent Pledge and granted free patent access to its green computing technologies.
“A company’s commercial value creation should go hand in hand with social value creation,“ says Yijie Peng, Ant’s chief sustainability officer. “Technological innovation has always been an important pathway for us to achieve this goal. We are committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.”