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Netflix 1 Hour Streaming Is Equal To 40 Minutes Of CO2 Emission From Air Conditioning

Netflix Co2

We finally know the exact CO2 emissions of Netflix. Watching your favourite series for an hour is like using air conditioning for 40 minutes, according to a study. In total, 100 g of carbon are released during this period. The platform lags behind other tech giants on this subject.

It has been known for some time now that web platforms are not models when it comes to ecology. The storage of data in massive data centres, as well as the energy required to power its structures also play a significant role in the release of CO2 into the atmosphere. Recently, Bill Gates notably accused Bitcoin of being a real climate disaster. This is all the more the case with streaming platforms, which for the most part produce their own content, adding to the whole a new source of pollution.

Until now, Netflix has never mentioned its CO2 emissions figures, and for good reason: it is surely the worst student in the class. But the platform eventually took the plunge and unveiled the results obtained by DIMPACT, a measurement tool developed by researchers at the University of Bristol. We learn that one hour of streaming in 2020 releases the equivalent of 100 g of C02. By comparison, that’s less than air conditioning on for the same amount of time.

Netflix Wants To Reduce Its CO2 Emissions

For users, this information helps them become more aware of the impact of their consumption habits. For Netflix, the goal is above all to identify the elements on which it can act to limit its emissions. This is precisely the role of DIMPACT. The tool comes in 4 modules: streaming, advertising, broadcasting and business. “Netflix or any other platform cannot simply plug a measurement tool into its infrastructure to assess its carbon emissions,” explains Daniel Schien, one of the creators of DIMPACT.

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The technology thus provides detailed information on the role of each module in Scope 3 emissions, that is, the pollution generated by the company and its customers. The streaming module, for example, involves creating a simulation of sending content from a data centre to the device in use. “For media that make entertainment, Scope 3 corresponds to the production of content, [their] distribution and [their] consumption by users”, specifies Christian Tonnesen, a consultant at Carnstone, involved in the project.

In other words, DIMPACT makes it possible to identify the major sources of CO2 emissions in order to help services adapt their operations to reduce them. In the case of Netflix, we could for example imagine data centres closer to the place of consumption, a faster stop reading or an agreement with Amazon Web Services, its host. We, therefore, do not know the details of the study carried out by the platform, but its order shows the latter’s willingness to do well on this subject.

Netflix And Other Tech Giants

It’s no coincidence that Netflix suddenly opens its eyes to its environmental impact. Other large groups have already communicated their environmental goals, which are quite ambitious in light of the streaming service’s lack of action to date. Microsoft, in particular, has pledged to achieve a negative carbon footprint by 2030 – that is, it will remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than it produces. Apple is more reserved in aiming for carbon neutrality by the same deadline. Facebook, for its part, wants all its suppliers to remove their shows. Finally, Google plans to use only renewable energy in the future.

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Netflix, meanwhile, is very discreet about its environmental goals. No communication has yet been made on the subject. Nevertheless, the latter could be a sign of a new beginning for the platform. By visualizing precisely its sources of emissions, appropriate measures can be put in place to limit its impact. The service promises to unveil its action plan by spring 2021. In the meantime, other platforms are still missing. In 2019, DIMPACT revealed that YouTube releases 10 Mt of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, a figure that could be drastically reduced by listening to its music without the video.