Alibaba Answers China’s Growing Calls For Sustainability

What Happened: Chinese tech giant Alibaba has launched a carbon ledger program called “88 Carbon Account” 88碳账户 across its ecosystem. Users will earn points for uploading proofs of their low-carbon choices, such as riding public transport and bringing their own cups to cafes. The accumulated points will unlock digital badges and discounts on Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms. Dr. Chen Long, Vice President of Alibaba Group and Chair of Alibaba’s Sustainability Steering Committee, stated that the system will “mobilize sustainable behavioral changes and environment-friendly actions” from its users.

Consumers can earn points via Alibaba’s 88碳账户 by making low-carbon choices, such as buying energy-efficient appliances. Photo: Alibaba Group

The Jing Take: This is not the first major carbon-reduction initiative launched by Alibaba. Its most renowned program is Ant Forest, which rewards users with “green energy points” each time they reduce their emissions, such as by biking to work and going paperless. Points can be exchanged for a real tree planted by Alibaba in China’s arid regions. Since its launch in 2016, Ant Forest has attracted over 500 million users and planted 100 million real trees in Northwest China. In 2019, the initiative received the Champions of the Earth award, the UN’s highest environmental honor.

Aside from sustaining the already-notable carbon reduction momentum, the ledger also serves to boost Alibaba’s CSR credentials. China has pledged to peak its CO2 emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, and the mini program will reflect positively on the tech giant, which was a prime target in China’s recent tech crackdown.

As Chinese consumers become more sustainability-conscious (56 percent of consumers with high-purchasing power on Tmall indicating that they care about green shopping), other tech platforms such as and Meituan are launching similar programs as well. “88 Carbon Account” will help to consolidate Alibaba’s leadership role in sustainability. However, the conglomerate should make sure that the ledger will not internally compete with Ant Forest by making the point-gathering process too cumbersome for users wishing to participate in both programs.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.