What are the environmental impacts of the internet?
How can they be reduced?
This article allows us to understand from different studies, the facets of Green IT by explaining how we can each, change the way we use the web. Awareness about the environmental impact of the internet must take place.
According to the Pôle Éco-Conception, Green IT “corresponds to a continuous improvement approach carried by the IT department (DSI) of companies, which aims to reduce the environmental impact of an information system. Reducing the environmental impacts of IT by redefining the internal needs of the company.”
Indeed, digital technology pollutes massively and it is important to make efficient use of these tools. It is therefore necessary to fight against digital pollution, which corresponds to “all the impacts of the digital industry on the environment” and which can be linked to the equipment and our Internet practices.
In order to avoid this digital pollution, here are several tips for users:
- Before you buy: Ask yourself if the device is necessary for your teams and activities. Give preference to products with an environmental label (Responsible Digital label, the AACC Active Agencies CSR label, etc.).
- Using your equipment: Use the guarantee, switch off the device when it is not in use, unplug it when it has finished charging and switch off the internet box when it is not in use.
- At the end of its life: Recycle your device.
For each user: reduce their carbon footprint on the Internet by closing tabs and emptying their cache, limiting email exchanges, optimizing space on servers and adopting “green” search engines.
Also, platforms are emerging to evaluate various elements including the environmental performance of a web page. EcoIndex.fr is a typical example of this, since this tool makes it possible to calculate the technical and environmental footprint (greenhouse gases and water) of a website.
Conception Numérique Responsable and Paris WEB have highlighted the impacts of our lifestyles on the climate (climate change, deforestation), biodiversity (ecological regression: soil, air and water pollution) and on resources (depletion of non-renewable resources). It is important to use less equipment for longer.
However, the useful life of electronic devices has been divided by 3 in 30 years. Indeed, the 1985 computers had a life span of 10 to 15 years and were easy to upgrade, repair, refurbish, recycle. Today’s computers have a lifespan of 3 to 15 years and are difficult or impossible to upgrade, repair, refurbish, recycle.
There are many objectives, including reducing the environmental footprint, reducing costs and improving the user experience.
WeGreenIT, a study based on 150 French companies, presented by WWF France and the Green IT Club, identifies their environmental footprint to help them reduce it. IT departments account for between 44% and 66% of these impacts.
Also, according to GREENIT today, more and more people are going online from a tablet, a smartphone or a computer. There are about 3 billion connected devices and 5 to 7 billion connected objects. This encourages digital pollution.
According to a report by The Shift Project, the energy consumption of digital technology is increasing by 9% per year, while it is possible to reduce it to 1.5% by adopting “Digital Sobriety“. This term is defined as “buying the least powerful equipment possible, changing it as infrequently as possible, and reducing unnecessary energy-intensive uses”. While it is important to address a digital transition, the direct and indirect environmental impacts (“rebound effect”) are often underestimated.
According to WWF, this rebound effect “occurs when the environmental benefits of a policy are more than offset by negative impacts. For example, the energy intensity of a service is reduced, its cost is lowered, and the resulting savings make it possible to consume more of the same service. »