23 Nov 2021

10 ways to reduce your digital carbon footprint

Maya Mhatre

Did you know digital emissions are the same as the entire airline industry!

Lockdowns and Covid life have forced many businesses to reduce their business related travel and therefore see carbon emissions reduced. However this is short lived and when we dig into the data we can see that whilst travel related emissions went down, digital related emissions increased, dramatically.

Whilst travel emission reductions are unfortunately only temporary, digital emission increases are not. 

Oliver Foster, Director of Corporate Partnerships at ClimateCare talks us through some more detail. “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 every day. If we all sent one less “thank you” email a day we could save more than 16,433 tonnes of CO2 per year, equivalent to 81,152 flights to Madrid! Small changes make a huge difference. 

All businesses big and small need to start being accountable for their entire carbon footprint in order to achieve Net Zero. This requires measuring emissions to understand your baseline and then reducing them across everything - from supply chains, to product use to digital footprints. 

Achieving Net Zero requires us all to take action which can be simplified into three core actions: Measure, Reduce and Compensate for emissions.

Reduction is key to this process. So ClimateCare have given us a list of ten things that every businesses (and their staff) can do today, to reduce their digital footprint:

The energy used in our digital consumption is the equivalent to the amount of CO2 the entire airline industry emits! Something that has stayed under the radar, until recently. Businesses need to address this overlooked area, which is relatively simple to reduce, to have a chance of achieving Net Zero and fulfilling their commitments. 

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 other changes can you make? Can you power off devices when unused, check which systems and programmes are using most energy on your devices, switch to green suppliers and manufacturers? Did you know even where you host your website has a carbon impact? Where is the energy used to power your site coming from? Check with your provider and make sure it’s from clean, renewable sources. 

Reset Connect London is taking place 28-29 June 2022 at ExCeL London. The event supports all businesses establish their sustainability goals, find net-zero solutions and the financing to action them. Find out more about exhibiting and partnering options.

With thanks to Guest Contributor: Oliver Forster, Director of Corporate Partnerships at ClimateCare