Netflix and Disney in the dock. While the major world powers fear a lack of energy for the coming winter season, our colleagues from Le Courrier international present a Swiss study (in German), conducted by the Computer Institute of the University of Zurich and which estimates that “Digital products and services generate more (CO2) emissions than they save”. In question, ever more “fast, practical, accessible and always available” services which therefore induce more consumption on the part of the user and – ultimately – more electricity consumption.
This observation relates to video and audio streaming platforms, but also to platforms providing access to newspapers, books and teleworking tools. In fact, according to the study, video is the worst emitter of CO2. A result far from being a surprise. Indeed, streaming video “uses 80% of the bandwidth” around the world. It may not mean anything to you. And yet.
A little over two years ago, at the start of the first confinement imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the American giant Netflix was forced to reduce the quality of its video content in order to “leave a little room” for activities. then qualified as “essential”. At that time, therefore, the streaming juggernaut had been called upon to save the stability of Internet networks. Will the firm be called upon again to make an effort for the winter? Case to follow.
Coming back to the Swiss study, experts believe that podcast and other song streaming services are very low CO2 emitters and therefore proportionally less energy intensive. At the same time, not all users are equal. If you have an Internet subscription with fiber, then you consume much less carbon dioxide (2 grams of CO2, per hour) than someone watching their favorite series via the 4G network (13 grams, per hour) .
Still doubting the energetic impact of “just a little innocent video”? The Swiss experts have the answer that will certainly convince you. For example, the song “Despacito” (performed by Luis Fonsi, in 2017) consumed as much electricity as Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Somalia, Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic combined, with 4.6 billion seen around the world in less than a year. When we know that the Squid Game series (Netlix) has gathered more than 142 million views and that Lupine (Netflix) has accumulated more than 70 million, we quickly see that it can be the impact of these platforms which always have the rating.