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10 Mar 2022

10 Ways to Reduce Your Digital Carbon Footprint

Pippy Stephenson

Digital technology makes up 3.7% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is shockingly double that of the airline industry. Since the start of the pandemic our reliance on digital technology has increased significantly. While the lockdowns granted some relief to the natural world with a decrease in travel related carbon emissions, our digital emissions are acting in opposition to that improvement. What’s more is that our reduced travel emissions have now all but returned to pre-pandemic levels whilst our digital emissions remain high. Digital carbon emissions are often overlooked but in a world of increasing digitisation we must make a conscious effort to tackle this problem. 

We spoke to Oliver Foster, Director of Corporate Partnerships at Climate Care, who said, “The internet is a huge consumer of energy due to two key factors. First, manufacturing and shipping of hardware and digital infrastructure and second, powering and cooling servers which draw energy from the local grid. It is the storing of data on these servers that is one of the worst offenders when it comes to digital energy use. Far from being invisible, ‘the cloud’ (and the technology used to run it) account for about one percent of global electricity demand and that is set to increase to 15-30% of electricity demand in some countries by 2030.” 

“All this energy use creates carbon emissions. The carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet and the systems supporting them accounts for a staggering 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions. Worse still, these emissions are predicted to double by 2025. At approximately 1.7 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, this equates to more than the carbon footprint of all the cars on the road in the UK and US each year.” 

According to an OVO study, Brits send more than 64 million unnecessary emails each day. If we all sent one less “thank you” email a day we could save more than 16,433 tonnes of CO2 per year! 

All businesses need to take action to reduce their carbon footprint and all aspects of their emissions. It may seem daunting, so here’s a basic 3 step method. To measure, reduce and compensate:

Reduction is key. ClimateCare has given us a list of 10 things that every business (and their staff) can do today, to reduce their digital footprint: 

Although it may seem immaterial, our digital consumption can have a significant impact on the climate. It is relatively simple for businesses to address this. These emissions need to be reduced if we’re to have a chance of achieving Net Zero. 

If you want to know more about your digital footprint including search engine, web browser and email specific emissions, take a look at ClimateCare’s Carbon Footprint of the Internet Infographic

What changes can you make? Can you power off devices when you’re not using them? Check which programmes on your computer are using the most energy? Switch to green suppliers and manufacturers? What provider are you using to host your website? Where is the energy used to power your site coming from? Check with your provider that it’s from clean, renewable sources. If you'd like to know what more changes you make, we recommend this article

To discover what more you can do to reduce your company's emissions, come along to Reset Connect London, which will take place on 28-29 June 2022 at ExCeL London. The event will bring together green technological innovators, start-ups, investors and industry leaders to discuss and fast-track our way to net-zero. Reset Connect London will support all businesses to establish sustainability goals, find net-zero solutions and the financing to action them. Book your ticket here