Internet, ICTs and CO2 emissions

how-much-co2-does-the-internet-produce midRiporto una riflessione sulle emissioni legate alle ICT e Internet che ho aperto su di un forum del corso Climate Literacy: Navigating Climate Change Conversations. Purtroppo il foum non è accessibile pubblicamente, ma credo che sia interessante, per cui lo riporto qui. Lo tradurrò in Italiano il prima possibile 🙂


This is a thread I started in the course Climate Literacy: Navigating Climate Change Conversations  Unfortunately isn’t public, but I think is interesting for everybody.

I will translate in Italian ASAP 🙂



Fabio Malfatti· 4 months ago  (26/10/2013)

I wish to share and start an exchange of ideas on the ICT impact on GHG.


Several times I found myself having to deal with unnecessary large attachments sended by e-mail. On the other hand, I ‘discovered’ myself to repeatedly download certain files just out of laziness.





carbon-footprint-internet-final midSo I start to think about internet and digital pollution. 

I have the feeling that many people think in internet, ICT and digital documents like something immaterial and with little or no environmental effects. 

From one side the ICTs brings big reductions of emissions (i.e. using videoconference instead of travel e and sending electronic documents instead of paper). But one effect of ‘low energy’ technologies can be an increase of energy consumption: “It ‘an energy-saving bulb”, and the light stays on.

I know that there are other end more important sources of energy consumption, but I think we need to keep attention to this, because the ICT are exponentially growing there is the need to put attention to ‘environmental friendly digital behavior’I tried to evaluate the CO2 emissions related with an email. 

I found this site: that estimate in 4g of  CO2 an email, but it rise at 50g for email with big attachment.   ( )

This report estimate in 151 1012 the number of mails sent and received from email accounts in 2013 (multiplication of # account with # of send/receive mails)…


In total we have around 604  1012 g/year of CO2  Is quite a lot, thinking that human emissions are in the order of  1015 g/year

Another data I found is: a Gartner report that estimate that in 2007 the ICT related CO2 emissions where 2% of all global human emissions.   ( )

1votes received.


Fabio Malfatti· 4 months ago 

This is the Google point of view: about his carbon footprint

0votes received.


Deborah A. J. 3 months ago 

I had noticed that coincidentally, the rise in computer capabilities and the internet has a positive correlation with the rise in CO2 emissions. Maybe not a coincidence after all?

1votes received.


Fabio Malfatti· 3 months ago 

IBoth (increments of computer capabilities, internet and CO2 emission are effects of increasing industrialization and technology application. Internet and ICT are growing at exponential rate. Consider that  and most of ICT equipment are powered 24/24 hour 7/7 Days

From one side we are saving a lot on CO2, with less paper, less physical objects moving, less people travel for meeting, (videoconferencing), less traverl for study (I am here in my home en Italy listening to Sara and Sarah and interacting with you and other students.

On the other side is not commons the perception that ICT have a big impact.

Other interesting link:


1votes received.


Deborah A. J· 3 months ago 

Thanks for your latest link. The problems and how they are being addressed are described clearly. I suggest that you take this topic to a mitigation or adaptation forum if you have time. Having more people in the course pay attention would be a good thing!

For a simple, straight forward approach that includes ICT:

The Story of Stuff Project made a similar simple but effective video about electronics. You can find it and others at this link:


1votes received.


Fabio Malfatti· 2 months ago 

Thank You Deborah, interesting Link.  The video is great and think.. I live in Italy at 12 km. from Capannori (6:53 of the video)

0votes received.

Anonymous· 3 months ago 

Thanks, interesting point of view

0votes received.

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