Can my internet habits affect the climate?

In 2022 even the biggest technophobes are using the internet! With most tasks being digital
today, it is difficult to avoid using the internet in some way. However, many people aren’t sure whether this has an effect on the environment and how our online usage impacts climate change.


How does the internet affect the climate?

In simple terms the internet uses electricity and the process of producing electricity produces carbon dioxide. This means that every time we employ a device which uses the internet, CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere. Additionally, the devices in question often require charging, further increasing electricity consumption.

Nigel Linge, a Professor of Telecommunications at the University of Salford, says that it’s been suggested that if you stream one hour of video through the internet, it works out as the equivalent of boiling a kettle three times.

Laptops, as well as other devices, have inbuilt fans to keep them cool and stop them from
overheating. While these fans are small, they nonetheless require power to run. When you scale this up to larger data plants, the power required to keep all the equipment cool is excessive, thereby representing a large contributor to emissions and climate change.


Everyday habits

Manchester internet provider, Talk Talk, found that during the first lockdown in March 2020, the
average use of the internet increased by 44%.

According to Ofcom, the average person in the UK spends a quarter of their day online. Most people’s daily routine will involve sending emails, browsing the internet or social media, streaming TV programmes, using a satnav, and so on. Each of these small tasks cause an emission of CO2.

The percentage of carbon required for these tasks may be small, but with half the globe (53.6% according to the BBC) using the internet, these small amounts of carbon quickly add up. The carbon footprint of our devices, the internet and the systems supporting them, account for 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions, according to some estimates. This is similar to the amount produced by the airline industry globally.


What can you do?

In a world where it is almost impossible to escape the internet, trying to avoid using it at all isn’t the solution. What you can do, instead, is ensure that the time you are using these devices is efficient.

Other things we can all do to cut down on internet usage are:

  • Turning devices off rather than leaving them on standby or airplane mode
  • Not using navigation functionality or GPS unless we actually need it for directions
  • Within devices, turn off background GPS and other extras that require more internet usage
  • Use lower quality streaming options for YouTube and other streaming services
  • Check which browsers you’re using – it’s a small difference, but Google Chrome compresses data on laptops and mobile devices
  • Download films/music rather than streaming them
  • Turn off auto-play on your TV and set a timer for your radio if you’re someone who falls asleep to either of these


Here at Porrima

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Our objective here at Porrima is to use our in-depth industry knowledge and technical
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