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This article first appeared in our Earth Day 2023 issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published on 22 April 2023. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Reports suggest gaming is now one of the main contributors to global warming; in the US alone, gaming is estimated to consume so much power that it pumps 24 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere – the equivalent emissions of five million cars.

Online gamers globally use the same energy as the whole of the US annually – and that doesn’t include manufacturing, data storage, transportation or business operations.

‘A physical copy of a game emits 20 times more CO2 than its digital download’, reveals Craig Taylor, founder and CEO of Gratitude Global. ‘For example, producing copies of the popular game FIFA 20 during 2019 is estimated to have emitted more than half a million tonnes of CO2. Similarly, producing the 100 million PS4 consoles sold from 2013 to 2019 generated 9.8 million tonnes of CO2, more than was emitted by countries like Costa Rica or Moldova.’

This year, the gaming industry is expected to be worth five times more than global box office revenues. As the largest category in the entertainment industry, with revenues that far exceed those of both the film and music industries, gaming – and its community – has huge potential for positive action and influence.

A big issue for gamers

‘Gaming’s reach and storytelling capability is greater than that of TV, music and film combined’, Craig tells us. ‘People who game are smart, they are in touch with reality and a community that’s expressing their desire to act and have financial capacity to contribute. You only have to see the green nudges and environmentally focused games coming to market to realise that climate change is a big issue for the gaming community.’

To get an idea of this industry’s power of reach and engagement, The Last of Us, released in 2013, is just one of the post-apocalyptic games now delivered as a TV series. It was watched by 4.7 million on the first day, an audience which grew to almost 40 million by series three.

Gamers want change

Gratitude’s own research suggests 89% of gamers want to buy from brands that support the environment, while 91% agree games can be used to promote awareness and environmental action.

‘Gamers are very much aware of the impact their pastime is having on the environment’, Craig explains, ‘but they aren’t in control of the energy source or hardware they use to game. Their choices are limited to sourcing the greenest energy supplier in their location and the most sustainable consoles available to them.’

The Playing for the Planet Alliance is very active in this space; over the last few years the initiative, facilitated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), has been advising gaming companies and gamers on the environmental impacts of gaming, culminating in reports being published in conjunction with UNEP on decarbonisation and sustainable practices within the gaming industry.

‘One of the main reasons Gratitude launched within the gaming sector is its ability to reach the masses and educate millions of gamers about the significance of the climate crisis and how we can help combat the most pressing issues we face today’, Craig reveals.

Gaming for impact

Gratitude’s solution is to allow all gamers and gaming companies to address the climate crisis through a straightforward subscription platform.

All gaming companies can partner with Gratitude and make immediate impact through their associated charities and carbon reduction programme, whether they have in-game purchases or not.

‘The average spend per gamer aged between 18 and 45 is estimated at £45 a month’, Craig tells us. ‘Our subscription rates are £4.99 per month, £27.99 for six months or £54.99 for 12 months. Depending on which subscription model you choose, 81-85% is directed to immediate impact actions through our beneficiaries and partners. Gratitude also plants a tree for every new subscriber in our Ecologi forest as a reward for their commitment to helping tackle the climate crisis.’

The 14 global charities on Gratitude’s platform support a diverse range of projects impacting environmental, conservation and social causes, which align with all of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The charities have been carefully selected based on their ability to deliver short-term environmental impact solutions and to relieve the negative effects of climate change on communities around the world.

‘Every subscriber gets to decide which of our charities their money is donated to, so they can support something they truly care about’, Craig explains. ‘For those who can’t decide where to donate their money, we have developed a Global Emergency Fund that will allow us to expedite funds to natural disasters such as droughts and wildfires.’

10% of Gratitude’s net profits are also set aside to address underfunded projects on its platform, create a global fund for climate emergencies such as wildfires and to invest in eco tech companies that benefit the planet.

While Gratitude launched in the gaming sector, its platform can be adapted to any industry – including construction and retail, two of the major contributors to the climate crisis.

‘Together, we can combat the climate emergency – but only if we act now’, Craig tells us. ‘No one gets off the climate bus.’

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