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CONSTRAINing the Carbon Footprint of Data Practices

Components of ICT(Rouse Margaret, 2005)

New report on CONSTRAIN’s digital impact

An exponential global growth in digitisation saw the number of people using the internet in 2021 reach 4.9 billion.   Their user devices, laptops, phones and data storage cause carbon emissions, referred to as a “digital carbon footprint”.

Given the large use of the internet by the CONSTRAIN project, we wanted to see what our digital impact is and how we can reduce it. Over the summer, we worked with Masters student Yash Shrivastava to calculate the digital carbon footprint of the CONSTRAIN project team.

CONSTRAIN’s impact

Yash carried out a comprehensive analysis of our data use across Europe and made recommendations on how we can reduce the carbon impact of this.

The study was completed using information from the consortium on our data use in 2021 from 5 countries.  At this point, the size of our footprint was approximately 661 kgCO2-eq. This is roughly equivalent to driving an average car 2,640km or charging 80,406 smartphones.

This sounds like a substantial impact, so can we lessen this without changing the way we work too much?

Recommendations

1. When not using a laptop or computer, shut it down.

2. Manage your emails – reduce the frequency, especially to too many recipients, and reduce the number of attachments.

3. Switch to a green search engine.

4. Use a green data centre for computing activities.

For more information, please contact CONSTRAIN@leeds.ac.uk