What are Digital Carbon Footprints

How do our digital technologies contribute to global warming?

Unintended Environmental Consequences

In today’s digital age, our online activities have an environmental impact that often goes unnoticed. From the emails we send to the videos we stream, each click creates a small carbon footprint that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

This is known as a digital carbon footprint.

At its core, a digital carbon footprint represents the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere from powering our internet usage and computations.

The main sources typically include:

Data Centres

Massive data centres that store and process our data consume vast amounts of electricity, largely generated from fossil fuel power plants. The cooling systems and servers in these facilities give off heat that requires even more energy to regulate.

Many data centres are taking extreme steps to lower their environmental impact such as investing in renewable energies or lowering their energy consumption by burying themselves underground.

Data Transmission

Transmitting data over networks like the internet relies on energy intensive infrastructure like telecommunication networks, router equipment, and wireless radio signals. Video streaming and cloud services are particularly data-intensive.

While the individual carbon contribution of each byte might be very small, the sheer amount of data that is exchanged across the internet results in significant CO2 overheads. This article compares video conferencing to boiling a kettle of water.


According to researchers, the information and communications technology (ICT) industry could use up to 20% of the world’s electricity and contribute up to 3.9% of global emissions if left unchecked.

Reducing our digital carbon footprints is therefore crucial for mitigating the energy consumption driving climate change.

And much more…

There are many other factors that contribute to this including the materials used to construct the physical elements of the internet (buildings, servers, cables etc) and the energy required to power the computers and devices we use.

If you want to learn more, our founder contributed several articles to the Open University, you can find these here.

Increase Your Digital Carbon Knowledge

By reading this article you’ve already begun your journey to increase your understanding of the environmental impact of technologies – well done!

But don’t stop there.

Get a free digital carbon footprint report on your website today. It will surprise you.