Amazon is taking steps to make cities around the world more environmentally friendly, in the face of the deteriorating state of the world's climates.
The company's AWS cloud computing arm has announced (opens in new tab) an expansion of its sustainable efforts, launching the AWS Sustainable Cities Accelerator to help growing companies leverage cloud computing for environmental and ecological ends.
The move comes after the success of AWS' Clean Energy Accelerator in 2021, which offered startups in the clean energy sector help with everything the cloud services provider is good at. Among other things, the Accelerator provided funding and commercial pilots for numerous startups.
Amazon says the Sustainable Cities Accelerator comprises several things: a six-week program focused on technical, business, and mentorship aspects, alongside collaborating with AWS staff, specialised training, up to $100,000 in credits, mentoring, and networking opportunities.
AWS says 10 to 15 startups will be selected after the initial application period. The program, created by Freshwater Advisors and Public Spend Forum, runs from May 15 – June 30, 2022. Applications are open now (opens in new tab) and due by April 15.
The cloud isn't free
AWS doing more to help alleviate some of the forthcoming devastating effects of the climate crisis is a welcome step.
The shift towards cloud computing, which drives almost every aspect of our connected lives, does not come for free: emissions from, and resource use by, data centres are enormous – and growing.
One academic research report found (opens in new tab) that US-based data centres account for 1.8% of all electricity use there, a staggering figure considering how few data centres there are in absolute terms. These centres account for 0.5% of all US greenhouse gas emissions.
Another report found (opens in new tab) that the total combined electricity usage of Amazon, Google, Meta, Microsoft, and Apple was equivalent to New Zealand at over 45 terawatt-hours. The same report found that emissions are rising 6% annually.
Given the shift towards off-device computation is only going to increase, AWS and other cloud providers need to implement strategies to mitigate their impact on the earth. The burden falls even more at Amazon's feet given it is the largest cloud services provider by some margin.
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