According to one estimate, in 2019 around 4.1 billion people worldwide have access to the Internet . Every single search query, every streamed video and every type of cloud computing, executed billions of times, is responsible for ever-increasing global demand for energy and thus also for increasing CO₂ emissions. The lion’s share of the digital footprint is caused by video streaming due to large data sizes of videos. By comparison, using a search engine or sending text-only emails has a negligible impact. In light of constant technological progress, increased efficiency, changing consumer habits and the substitution and summation effects, it is difficult to estimate exactly how large the global CO₂ emissions are. Various studies estimate them to be between 2.3 – 3.7 percent of global CO₂ emissions, which is equivalent to the emissions of the entire aviation industry . On an individual level, it is possible to estimate more precisely how high the CO₂ emissions are and how they can be reduced by simple means.
Simple means to reduce emissions in everyday digital life:
- Reduce streaming: Video streaming causes 75 percent of global data traffic . Production of the device (smartphone, laptop, TV), internet network energy consumption, several involved data centres and servers/routers, energy consumption use of device during streaming itself. By comparison downloading is much less energy-intensive.
- Play songs as audio files rather than streaming them as a video on YouTube or watch the video at a lower resolution .
- Use devices longer: The average useful life of a smartphone in Switzerland is just two years, that of a television five years .
- Dispose of old devices correctly.
- Empty your e-mail box regularly to reduce data storage.
- Store data locally, use the cloud as little as possible (applies to private individuals, for companies with server structure "on premise" rather vice versa)
- Use WLAN networks instead of mobile networks.
- Use a renewable energy mix (photovoltaic, hydropower, wind, biomass).
You can find further exciting information on the subject of climate change and climate protection in our climate booklet