The Shift Project authors impact report

The Shift Project is a non profit, established in Paris in 2010 by energy-climate experts. Funded by corporate sponsors, it functions as a think-tank.

In 2018 and 2019, it published reports on the impact of digital on the environment, under the title “Lean ICT – Towards digital sobriety”.

"Video flows represented 80% of global data flows in 2018."

The July 2019 published report claims that digital technologies now emit 4% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), a figure that could double from now to 2025 to reach 8% of all GHG emissions (a rate that will be reviewed following the health crisis in 2020 and resulting increased dependency on digital).

"Online video is not a dematerialized process. Online video content, stored in data centers, is transferred to our devices via networks in an energy-consuming process."

The think-tank's report highlights that with 60% share, online videos are the main consumer of online data transfer, with a 20% share for downloaded videos. Non video online data consumes only 20%. Within streaming, the main data consumers long video streaming sites for series and films (34%), porn videos (27%), general public "tube" type sites such as Youtube (21%) and social media streaming videos such as TikTok (18%).

The Shift Project's report highlights that in video streaming, network infrastructures and the data centers involved are the real consumers, whereas electricity consumption on devices was minimal.

In terms of solutions, the report concentrated on the various dynamics involved in user behavior. Two main issues concerning user sobriety were highlighted:

1. Offering flat rates with unlimited are not favorable to any form of restriction on the quantity of data consumed.

2. Addictive design aimed at maximizing the amount of time spent by the user on the platform leads to high-consuming user habits.

Fairly long-winded, it hints at content-regulation as a possible solution to the environmental challenges posed by the digital sector.

Click here to read the full report.

Source: The Shift Project