Net zero internet video?

How to calculate

Research organisations


Video's share of online emissions

"My estimate for video streaming is 0,19g of CO2 per hour, while the Shift Project calculated that video streaming emits 400g of CO2 per hour. That's about 1,000 more!" François Zaninotto ref

In other words, estimates vary:

How is it calculated?

There are many different calculations for the CO2 intensity per MB of video shared online raning by a factor of up to 100. Why do they differ so much? [[Digital CO2 analysis]] is hard to calculate because it depends on many factors:

  • the CPU intensity in generating and serving the media;
  • where the content is served from, what [[CDNs]] is being used.
  • where the content is served to;
  • the delivery network it (may) use;
  • the device it is loaded on (a significant percentage of the footprint depends on whether it's streaming to smart phone, flat-screen TV or something in between);
  • the transfer protocol (1gb of streaming uses less energy that 1gb downloaded).

And that's without considering

  • the embedded footprint in the production of the media. There are a number of media industry [[Sustainable filmmaking initatives]] looking at this
  • the embedded footprint of all the technology from server, through the network to delivery.
  • the behavioural impact footprint of the media's message (e.g. a one minute burger commercial vs a 90m minute climate-change focussed documentary; Top Gear vs a David Attenborough). Sustainable certifiers Albert, now require (tho don't monitor) an 'editorial content' question during certification.
  • the compulsiveness of the media – 60 hour series stack or short film?

Despacito worked example

Mostly tho the data is missing so estimates must make guesses. An estimate was made for the 7 billion online views of the music video Despacito and came to 908.93 GWh (energy, not hardware).

"I wrote a library to generate random data called Faker. As of today, it's been installed 116 Million times and probably executed a hundred times more. If each execution of Faker emits a milligram of CO2, I'm now responsible for 11,6 Metric tons of CO2 emissions. Had I designed Faker to be just a bit more energy efficient in the first place, the effects would already be huge today." François Zaninotto ref

Referred in

Net zero internet video?