How Green Is Your Internet? Greenpeace’s Click Clean Campaign Provides Some Answers

Photo showing CERN's Computer Center

What’s the status of renewable energy in the IT sector? The Click Clean Report 2017 takes a look at exactly this topic.

Author Anna Rees, 01.16.17

What’s the status of renewable energy in the IT sector? The Click Clean Report 2017 takes a look at exactly this topic.

Digitalisation is going full steam ahead, and any associated transformations are no longer future possibilities. The internet has revolutionised our lives: the apps that we use daily enable us to listen to our favourite music, chat with family and friends and watch films and TV shows practically anywhere.

The most important cornerstones of the digital age are the gigantic data centres. However, storing and managing big data requires a lot of energy. According to Greenpeace, the IT sector’s energy use accounts for seven per cent of the global electricity use. Cause for concern?

The industry’s energy consumption is unlikely to decrease in the next few years. In fact, the worldwide internet traffic is expected to triple by 2020. In 2015, video streaming occupied the lion’s share of data use at 60 per cent, and this is expected to climb to 80 per cent by 2020. Netflix alone accounts for about a third of North America’s total internet traffic.

Click Clean: the Concept and the Results

If digital infrastructures were fully powered by renewable energy, the digital transformation would most likely have a large share of a more sustainable energy economy development. But it’s a different story entirely if the IT industry relies on coal and other unclean sources of energy.

Based on this, Greenpeace’s Click Clean campaign has, since 2010, been helping large internet companies to become independent of dirty energy sources like coal and drive our quickly growing digital world with renewable energy. Leading IT firms like Apple, Facebook and Google took up the challenge and have given themselves the task of using renewable energy. This could lead to a kind of spillover effect on other companies looking to present themselves as green. This clearly shows the power of customer awareness with regard to more sustainability in the consumer area.

There may well be some leading examples of renewable energy in IT, but things are different in some of the most important regions. For example, Internet giants in East Asia are operating mainly on fossil fuels. The main reasons for this are that it is more difficult to access renewable sources of energy as well as a different political and social awareness of the respective states.

In the Click Clean Report 2017, you can read about the newest developments in the exciting area. Via the website, you can find out which apps are green and which urgently need a good clean.

Translated from this article by Simon Dupree that was originally published on our German platform. 

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