Where do online GHG come from?

If the internet was a country, it would be the 7th largest polluter in the world . It is predicted to double by 2025, and take up a staggering 14% of our total emissions by 2040.

This is becoming more and more common knowledge, thanks in part to Mr Musk's recent stance, but also to valiant efforts to sensibilize the population to these issues (we strongly recommend the Fresque du Numérique workshop). But do you know where these emissions come from exactly ?

The hidden truth

Have a look at this graphic:


As we can see, the most consequential impact comes from the extraction of minerals, but it might also come as a surprise that the end of life of our electronics also comes at a huge cost ! This highlight the need to resist the urge of getting a new smartphone every year ;)

Usage then also comes in quite strongly, but as it depends mostly on the energy mix, it can vary quite a lot. In France for example, where the energy mix is quite decarbonized thanks to nuclear production, it can be as little as 2%. However, it reaches around 30% when taking into account the global landscape.

We can further break down usage into 3 categories:

  • Device consumption
  • Network
  • Data Centers

The fantastic team at MarmeLab has been able to analyze impact in greater detail using their GreenFrame tool:

image__5_.png We can see that the server doesn't account for much of the usage. The most consequential part comes from the front end and the network.

What can we do then ? As consumers, we should most importantly extend the shelf life of our devices.

As service providers, like us at Enverse Labs, we should enable our users to do this.

Our apporach rests on three main pillars:

  • build only what we need (essential design)
  • Build retro-compatible software (or at least, provide escape hatches for features that kill older devices)
  • Build energy-efficient applications (Hello Astro.build and NextJS static site generation)

Do you have any other ideas for building cleaner products that cut down on emissions ? Get in touch with us, we love exchanging ideas and believe co-operation is the best tool we have to build a greener web 😘