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The impacts of our digital lives

The digital world now accounts for approximately 2% of global carbon emissions, which is roughly the same as the total emissions of the aviation industry.

The number of people online is expected to rise by 60% in the next five years and the data consumption of users, both new and existing is predicted to triple. This could mean that data centers alone will rank among the largest users of electrical power by mid-2030.

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With cloud services and wireless connectivity it is not always obvious what action we can take as individuals to manage our carbon impacts in this area. However, considering your email activity as well as which browsers and social media platforms you use are steps that you can take.

Email: Driving 1 mile is roughly equal to sending 8 emails with attachments or 102 emails without attachments and we’re probably all guilty of sending more emails than we really need to. Practical steps you can take to reduce the impact of your emails include removing unnecessary logos and images from email signatures, as well as compressing attachments before sending them on. You can find out more in the "is email bad for the environment" article.

Browsers and social media: Greenpeace’s Green Internet Report can inform your decision as to which major search engine or social platform to use. There are also some lesser-known browsers available which transform your internet searches into positive impact, such as tree planting.