The Shift Project, based out of Paris, is a think tank that released their findings showing the internet has added to nearly 4% of total carbon emissions since 2013.  Most of these emissions are caused by servers and hardware used for streaming video.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT):

The Shift Project believes streaming video could be responsible for contributing to 4% of the global carbon emissions through photo internet recreations.  Their research has found there are ways to transition to renewable energy.  Their analysis, titled Lean ICT – Toward Digital Sobriety, concentrated on the basic materials that make up the digital technology and consumes energy.

According to the study, outside of environmental impacts from hardware, the incredible warp speed that data is traveling around the world is creating more carbon emissions by approximately 9%, yearly.

Alarmingly, the report discovered that the majority of the impact on emissions comes from countries with higher income levels which accounts for more than 90% of all data.  In the United States, the average American has at least 10 digitally connected devices, exhausting 140 Gigabytes of data on a monthly basis.  On the other hand, consumers in India only have one device which will only use 2 Gigabytes on a monthly basis.

It’s not uncommon that there are little to no discussions regarding climate change and the use of the internet.  Businesses digitize their processes as a central part of their climate mitigation strategies.  It is believed that digital transformation is a great deal more sustainable by using less basic materials and energy than your standard forms of information exchanges.

Hugues Ferreboeuf, co-writer of the Shift Project, said the report gives solid evidence that companies’ digital transformation is not immediately compatible with their climate change mitigation goals.

In March, the Motion Picture Association of America reported that recent trends have given rise to streaming video with internet subscriptions well-surpassing cable subscriptions, this year.

Netflix is considered the most popular streaming service having 63% of users which is up by 8% from the previous year.  Another 54% use Amazon and 43% are using Hulu.

The Shift Project pointed out, in more detail, that it’s not just home entertainment.  The project also looked at the materials and processes that make up the digital world from the physical mining of minerals to the final products online.  Adding to that, data-intense videos are gulping up an extraordinary amount of online space and is continually increasing.

It seems media companies are now paying attention.  Since December of last year, Facebook started working with a solar distribution cooperative to build a 200MW solar farm for its new data server in Georgia.  They are also in the process of working with the Tennessee Valley Authority to build a renewable-powered data center in Alabama.  Note – Google is now doing the same thing.

If you don’t know, Florida Sun is now Solar United Neighbors of Florida, advocating for renewable energy in Florida. They are fighting to help more Floridians get the benefits from solar and making all of Florida 100% renewable energy powered!

To build their new energy project, Facebook chose Georgia’s Walton Electric Membership Corporation over Georgia Power which is the state’s dominant utility provider.  Walton’s spokesperson, Greg Brooks, said Facebook liked the idea that the corporation is customer-owned and community-oriented.

In partnership with the League of Women Voters, Solar United has a goal to “put solar on every roof and money in every pocket”.  The main focus is on installing panels on the roofs of residences.

The Shift Project is urging that what they call the Digital Sobriety scenario, which simply asks high-income nations to open their eyes and sober up by easing up on internet use.  They are not saying it’s the only answer but could prevent an explosion of the digital environmental footprint.