The amount of internet data is growing rapidly – ​​including CO₂ emissions

The amount of internet data is growing rapidly – ​​including CO₂ emissions

Internet surfers in Germany consume significantly higher amounts of data than ever before. According to a report by the Federal Network Agency available to the German Press Agency, in the past year, an estimated 100 billion gigabytes were transmitted in fixed networks and thus 19 billion more than in 2020. In 2019 it was still 60 billion gigabytes.

The reason for the increase is the increasing use of digital applications in everyday life. In addition, many services require more data, such as portals or virtual reality apps exclusively containing high-resolution movies. In 2021, the average data volume of each fixed broadband connection was 226 gigabytes per month. In 2020 it was still around 175 gigabytes per connection and month.

In addition, due to the ongoing pandemic in Germany, video conferencing, which some schools used for distance learning last year sometimes – was particularly unproductive for poor families.

Researchers examined CO₂ emissions from cloud services and found large differences in energy and resource requirements. For example, while video conferences in data centers accounted for only a small portion of greenhouse gas emissions, the lion’s share was due to the devices and routers used in each case. There was also a difference in the use of notebook and desktop PCs.

To save CO₂, one study recommends deactivating the camera for video conferences and selecting a lower resolution for video streaming of series and movies. On the other hand, there is a reduction in emissions in the production and sale of data carriers for travel including office travel and home cinema or cinema operation and travel.

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According to the researchers, there is significantly higher CO₂ emissions when streaming music than when producing sound carriers, including the necessary plastic production. CO₂ emissions are much higher than in the past – even in comparison to the boom phases of vinyl and CD sales.


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