In order to preserve our planet, many people adopt more reasonable consumption habits: eating less meat, using reusable straws, riding a bicycle instead of the car …
Sadly, global warming is a threat that still hangs over our heads. A review of the journal Patterns states that the digital sector emits far more greenhouse gases than the aviation sector.
Digital, more polluting than aviation
IT pollutes more than you might think. Indeed, experts say that our everyday electronic devices emit more greenhouse gases than aviation. Thus, our smartphone, our computer, our tablet or even our TV emit 2.1%.
Let’s not even talk about the storage of our data, because it’s even worse: it represents 3.9% of our greenhouse gas emissions. What about aviation in all of this? In comparison, taking the plane represents “only” 2.5% of these emissions. Thereby, the production of an 11.4 kg TV is the equivalent of a Paris-Nice return trip by plane.
The experts behind this study take into account the life cycle of devices, namely manufacture, use and end of life. New uses of digital technology, such as artificial intelligence or the Internet of things, also come into play.
To get an idea, teaching a single machine learning algorithm releases 284,019 kg of CO2. That’s as much as five cars over their entire lifespan!
Reduce the digital carbon footprint quickly
Global warming is, and rightly so, an important topic. Thus, reducing the titanic carbon footprint of digital technology is essential. In accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement, the increase in global warming must be limited to 1.5 ° C. To do this, the greenhouse gas consumption of the digital sector must fall by 42% by 2030 and by 91% by 2050.
Unfortunately, at the present time, we are still far from it. To succeed in meeting this bet, it would take major political consultation or major industrial efforts. Another solution, according to the experts: use green energy which would make it possible to drop this impact by 86%.
However, the French government is aware of this problem. In fact, in February 2021, he unveiled a roadmap to reduce the environmental impact of digital technology.