Shawn Lim
Jul 14, 2022

Media industry's pollution equivalent to aviation, study finds

TOP OF THE CHARTS: The internet represents at least 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions—on par with the aviation industry—and contributes to the media industry’s overall emissions. 

Media industry's pollution equivalent to aviation, study finds

Source: Swedish tech company SeenThis developed a hybrid formula to calculate data transfer emissions: amount of CO2 emitted from one GB of data transfer. That number is between 200g-1kg of CO2 per GB data transferred, where 1kg is believed to be the most accurate. It was developed together with a management consultant agency and further validated with independent industry experts. 

More from this source:

  • For every GB of data used, 1kg of carbon is released. For example, a large global brand that purchases 40 billion impressions of programmatic advertising each year emits as much as 8,000 tons of CO2 annually from these campaigns alone, with an average ad size of 200KB. That’s equivalent to over 200 million plastic bags. 
  • The five big contributors to the media industry’s carbon footprint are data centers, core network, content delivery networks, access network and end-user devices. 
  • Data transfer is projected to skyrocket in the coming decade, growing at a rate of 40% per year, resulting in a 40x increase by 2030. There are three primary market trends driving this increase: video consumption, mobile internet, and consumer expectations. 
  • There are three levers available to alleviate the effects of the skyrocketing of data transfer. The first is making data transfer more energy efficient, thereby reducing the energy required to transfer one GB of data. The second is reducing the amount of data (number of GBs) that is pushed through the system and finally, using clean energy to power the Internet.
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Top of the Charts: Key data at a glance


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