We reached our goal of net-zero emissions in a matter of months.

As a result of growing greenhouse gas emissions, climate models predict that our planet will get significantly warmer, that ecosystems will be changed or destroyed, and that enormous human and economic costs will be incurred. These scenarios aren’t guaranteed, but avoiding them will be very hard. At Oblak Datacenter, we’re trying to take small steps to mitigate our impact.

While climate modeling is complicated, the evidence is increasingly strong.

The environmental impact of burning fossil fuels for energy at a global scale is significant. Since the beginning of the 20th century, sea levels have risen 7-8 inches and Earth’s surface temperature has risen by 1.8°F globally. Any warming may hurt us—rising sea levels, more forest fires, and more extreme weather, along with changes in everything from precipitation patterns to ocean currents. But non-linear dynamics and unpredictable second-order effects may make reversing the damage harder the further we go.

In a complex system, it’s very hard to know how far is too far. But the precautionary principle makes drastic changes worrisome. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change deemed 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels to be the maximum tenable global temperature increase. Beyond that, the risk of irreversible harm looks unacceptable.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that we cannot cumulatively emit more than one trillion metric tonnes of carbon while remaining below 2°C of warming. Earth is already halfway to that emission threshold and may exceed it by 2050.

The IPCC explores potential scenarios of human activity on future rates and magnitudes of climate change through Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP). RCPs take into account both climate dynamics and real-world factors like population growth, environmental policy, and development of new technologies. There are three commonly-used RCP scenarios: 8.5 (high), 4.5 (medium), 2.6 (low). To date, our global emissions trajectory and climate policy outlook most closely resemble RCP 8.5.

Though Oblak Datacenter doesn’t make a physical product —our ecommerce for millions of businesses around the world— our operations still contribute to global climate change. So, we decided to take action by measuring our greenhouse gas footprint and purchasing enough carbon offsets to reach net-zero emissions.

We began 2017 at an estimated 18,000 metric tonnes of emissions. The GHG Protocol Corporate Standard assesses greenhouse gas emissions on three dimensions. Oblak Datacenter estimated all three emission scopes, in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (TCO2E), to determine the magnitude of our impact.